Monday, December 08, 2008

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deepWhere the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,’Tis the star-spangled banner - O long may it waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Back in 2005 I was on a committee to help plan a formal function for an army unit that I was in. As is customary with an important military event it begins with a benediction and the playing of the National anthem. During one of our meetings something came over me, we were discussing who would sing or play the anthem for our event. Suddenly my palms got all clammy, my throat became dry and I started to perspire. I was having an out of body experience; I watched as my hand went up, words started coming out of my mouth, but I wasn’t in control, I felt like a puppet on a string under the control of some cruel and evil marionette. What did I just do? I volunteered to sing the National Anthem in front of 200 plus people! But I’ve never sung the National Anthem; well of course I’ve belted it out with everyone else at sporting events or Army Parades, but never in my life have I sung it solo. So why did I just say that I would and could? In the end I performed without a hitch. I surprised myself; I did so well. Thus began an odyssey which continues to this day.

Why Sing the Anthem?

Everyone knows the singing the National Anthem is not easy. Many people don’t even know the words. The range with which the song is played in from high to low can stump even the best troubadour. But this song is more than just another song to me and probably most people who sing it on a regular basis.
Listen to the words and it tells of a moment in US history (September 1814) when the war with the British was being fought and of one man’s relief in seeing the US flag still flying after a vicious bombardment.

I’m a very proud America and when I do sing the Anthem I feel something special, something inside me; pride in this country with which we live. Pride as I stand facing the Stars and Stripes, remembering those who have served before me.

One of the 1st times I sang the anthem I had someone tell me that my rendition brought tears to their eyes, another told me they got chills they were so moved. I don’t take compliments easily; I am my own worst critic. But the more I heard the more I thought to myself WOW! Maybe I’ve got something here. Yes, I’ve got something, it’s called a gift, I have been given a gift from a higher power; the gift of a song and the ability to move people with that song I do not take that gift lightly.

Ultimate Performance –

I’ve sung the anthem on a fairly regular basis now for 5 years. At first I had to go out and find my own gigs, asking events leaders if they needed someone to sing the anthem at their Veterans Day ceremony, the start of the Eugene marathon, Chamber of commerce events. But now I seem to have made a name for myself and people call me to sing at their events. I don’t mind singing locally but I would not mind spreading my gift of song around like say at a Portland Trail Blazer game or something. I mean I’ve done MAC Court. But I guess I would have to say my ultimate anthem performance would have to be Autzen Stadium..a Duck Game; but alas this will probably never come to fruition as the anthem is never sung at Autzen, due to the sound delay. So until Autzen fixes its acoustic problems, I will have to settle for the Super Bowl.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall standBetween their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued landPraise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,And this be our motto - “In God is our trust,” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.