Fred Squires was with friends shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks when the national anthem came on television. The group stood up and broke into song, at which point Squires’ mind started to travel elsewhere.
A Center City resident, Squires thought about people in France and China and how they also would stand up with friends and sing their countries’ anthems.
What would happen if, instead of people from each country singing their own song, they instead sang an international anthem, he wondered. And so, Squires, a radiologist with little musical background aside from childhood piano lessons, started to write what would become his “International Anthem for World Peace.”
“I would like my daughters to grow up in a world of peace,” said Squires, a father of twin 8-year-old girls and a member of Congregation Rodeph Shalom. “And rather than just hoping for that, I’m trying to do something about it.”
Squires finished the song a few years ago and has since created a website, theinternationalanthem.com , that features an audio recording of the song performed in English by 26 people and lyrics translated into 10 languages, including Hebrew, Arabic, Norwegian and Swahili. (Squires did more than just enter the words into Google translator — he enlisted friends to help with the renditions.)
After the Newtown, Conn., school shooting last week, Squires, who works for Penn Medicine at Chester County Hospital, said he gave additional thought to the anthem. The tragedy hit home because of his daughters’ closeness in age to many of the victims and because a colleague of his lost a relative in the shooting.
“I think that when you see a tragedy like this,” he said, “and there’s such mass violence, my thought is the way to deal with mass violence is with mass peace.”