by Lisa Tome
Fifteen years ago, Stanley Barczewski asked why the National Anthem wasn't part of the pre-game for boys basketball at Rising Sun High School.
Then-coach Stewart Wilson said he didn't know and asked Barczewski if he wanted to sing it.
"I said sure," said Barczewski.
And the rest is Star Spangled history. The coach checked with the players and the go ahead was given. Barczewski then began singing the anthem at the home basketball games. His reputation grew and he was tapped for school special events such as senior night, where he again performed his signature song - "The Star Spangled Banner". He did the school performances for about a dozen years before gaining a larger audience.
In 2001, Barczewski started singing the anthem at various events at the Cecil County Fair. This year, during the nine-day fair he sang the anthem at the opening of events nearly a dozen times.
"The demo derby is my biggest audience," he said.
He always sings the song a cappella. He learned the song as a child at Connie Mack stadium in Philadelphia.
"I just find it so inspirational. To me, it goes directly to all those who died for our flag," Barczewski said. He said he thinks of his family members who served in World War II and Vietnam when he is singing. "I never served myself. I was in the lottery and my number didn't come up. When I sing, it's kind of emotional for me. It means a lot for me to sing it," he said.
He sang in church as a child. His sister was a professional singer. When he was growing up there was "always music in the house." He is not a professional singer. He does read music and plays the saxophone.
"Starting at your key is the key to singing it. Where most people start, the high note is too high and most people can't hit it," he said.
He said that people have been complimentary after he performs. "People say 'you sang it the way it should be sung'. I would sing it everyday if I could," he said.
His reputation for singing has crossed state lines, Barczewski now travels 100 miles there and back to sing for the First State Tractor Club. He also performs at family reunions and other tractor shows. He volunteered to sing at an Ironbirds game but was turned down because they were looking for groups.
"I've never done a graveside but I would do it at a veterans' grave if people asked," he said.
By day, Barczewski, 61, is a meat inspector for the State of Delaware, where he has worked for 37 years, ensuring safe food handling practices are in place. He is also a husband, father, and grandfather and lives in Pleasant Hill near Elkton.