For the last ten years or so, my church has done a patriotic musical every Fourth of July, and I have made it part of my Independence Day celebration. One of the songs we do is entitled "Salute to the Armed Forces" where we sing the song of every branch of our military. When their song is sung, the veterans are told to stand. The congregation and choir alike applaud them for their sacrifice as we sing together.
It's a powerful moment. Or string of moments. It's amazing to be in the congregation as amen and women all around you stand and are honored for their willingness to give. One year, I sang in the choir and sitting in the second row was a solider in his dress blues. I don't know if there was a dry eye in the building.
This year, something a little bit different happened. After we applauded, without the prompting of the choir or the director, the entire congregation moved to keep the beat with our hands. I wasn't quite sure how to handle this in my no clapping, barely sing along Lutheran congregation. We were all clapping together and singing at the top of our lungs.
In ten years, that has never happened before. It happened at both performances this year. Wow.
Those men and women who stood and could not stand deserve more than a round of applause. So many more gave the ultimate sacrifice in laying down their lives so that I can sit here and type this sentence. So many of them suffered horrific injuries, physical and emotional. They've experienced more than I can ever imagine and they did it all for us.
Happy birthday, America. I am so glad to call you my homeland.