This will send a goodly chill of pride up your spine. It is a video captured by a guest in an Hyatt Regency hotel in Kentucky as this 1,000-voiced All-State High School Choir sang the National Anthem in the atrium. It is a rich, full-throated, beautifully traditional, rendition of our National Anthem.
Listen especially to the choral depth and power those voices lift up in the last lines: “The land of the free, and the home of the brave.” This piece has all of the elements. It is beautiful in its choral richness, it has the resonance of that cathedral-like atrium to lift those notes to the level of honor, dignity, and majesty, that the anthem deserves.
When you have listened to it and felt that surge of patriotic pride it will give you, reflect on those last two lines for a while. Because this nation has represented the greatest opportunities for personal freedom in human, political history; because this nation’s freedom has been tested many times, and each time it came to understand the cost of that freedom more and more dearly, that “idea” became more than a simple word; it became the very core of everything we do.
Because we live in a world where there are those who are threatened by those freedoms that we have come to understand as our birthright, we know that the need to protect and defend them is still here. Because of those threats to liberty this nation has, at times, had to call on its brave sons and daughters to go into the field of battle, to bleed and, too often, to die in order to protect and defend that freedom.
And there have always been those few who were willing to do so for the good of all the nation, not just themselves. They are the reason that we can call this country “the home of the brave.” It takes overwhelming courage to stand between those who would attack us, to protect and to defend freedom. For us, freedom is not simply an idea — it is our dearest value as a nation. And we know only too well, that freedom is not, as we have heard so often, free. Its cost is often painfully dear.
It is only as long as we have brave individuals who understand that freedom is not just a private, personal thing, but something that must be protected for ALL; as long as we have brave individuals who are willing to live out the paradox of having to sacrifice some of their own freedoms in order to protect and defend those freedoms for the rest of their fellow countrymen, we will be able to continue to live in the environment of freedom that this country represents to the world. Those who have volunteered to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces are those brave few who protect and defend so many. Remember them as you listen to this beautiful rendition of our National Anthem. We here at The Veterans Site extend our most sincere thanks to all who have served.
You can view a full performance from 2013 below:
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.