For many months, the Feliciano Family had been preparing for an extraordinary week in June: the wedding of Melissa Anne, the only daughter of Jose and Susan, and namesake for Feliciano’s Grammy Award-winning album and single which bears her pet name, “Niña,” and Jose Feliciano’s highly anticipated personal endowment to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
On June 9th, in Westport, Connecticut, Jose escorted his Niña down the center aisle of The Church of the Assumption, followed by a fairytale reception in Stamford’s picturesque Museum and Nature Center later that evening. Melissa and her groom, Charles, whom she’d met over 10 years before, entertained their friends and family, ahead of their Honeymoon on the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda…but first, a trip was to be taken, a phrase was to be coined, and a gift was to be given…
Just four days following Melissa’s and Charles’ wedding, the entire Feliciano Clan, including the newly wedded couple (who generously dubbed their excursion to D.C. as the “Familymoon”), drove down to Washington, to the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, where curator, John Trottman, was anticipating their arrival with a spectacular event planned by him and his colleagues for the following morning at the Smithsonian’s Museum’s Flag Hall.
On June 14th, Flag Day, the annual Naturalization Ceremony where this year, 19 newly-minted American citizens from 18 different countries from around the world would take their Oath of Allegiance, and would listen to the keynote remarks offered by Jose Feliciano, an Ambassador of Good Will and, himself, an immigrant to mainland United States as a child of 5 years-old.
The ceremony continued with Mr. Trottman taking to the podium and sharing a few words about Jose, his life, his storied career, and the objects that he was giving to the museum. He continued that Jose had been invited there that day to finalize and immortalize his personal donation to the American People. Additionally, he’d been invited to render his iconic version of the“Star-Spangled Banner” on the very guitar with which he caused a national furor of controversy exactly 50 years ago. He played his custom 1967 Concerto Candelas acoustic guitar one last time, in the presence of the very banner that inspired Francis Scott Key to write those emblazoned words which became our National Anthem.
From menace to maestro, Jose Feliciano was officially exonerated for his 1968 interpretation of our national hymn, sung as a love song to his country in a manner which had never been done before, and was lifted to the heights of honor – front and center – in Flag Hall, the centerpiece of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Considering it all, Feliciano has come Full Circle.