Concert celebrates America, military

Published 9:10 am Monday, July 2, 2012

Hundreds of Decatur County citizens started celebrating Independence Day early on Sunday, as they watched dozens of talented musicians perform patriotic songs during the fourth annual Church Patriotic Music Program.

The performance was held at Calvary Baptist Church this year, and featured a mass choir led by First Baptist Church music minister Art Bruce, and an orchestra ensemble led by Will Parker. The mass choir was composed of more than 50 church members from a variety of local congregations.

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“We’re here to celebrate what it means to be American,” said Randall Terry, the minister of music education at Morningside Baptist Church. “We’re here to thank God for the great blessings that He has given us.”

Audience members joined in several of the familiar tunes, including the opening song of “America The Beautiful.” Members of the Bainbridge High School JROTC, along with JROTC alumnus and U.S. flag bearer J.D. Poole, presented the colors while the ensemble performed the national anthem.

Other patriotic tunes played by the ensemble during the concert included George M. Cohan’s “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and the John Philip Sousa march “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Early in the concert, a moment of silence was held for the military members who have given their lives in sacrifice throughout the years, while a bugler performed “Taps.”

“We are blessed for we are a nation that is free to worship God,” Terry said. “Those liberties were paid for with a great price. We have asked our men and women to protect us, and to lay down their lives, if necessary.

“Today, I ask if you will join me in a moment of silence to remember those who gave that great sacrifice.”

After the conclusion of the moment of silence, the audience and mass choir joined in the singing of “Amazing Grace.”

Guitarist and solo vocalist Patrice Parker performed “God Bless America,” and the mass choir then joined in a special program entitled “I Love This Land.” The program featured a variety of patriotic songs, both familiar and new.

Arguably the highlight of the “I Love This Land” portion of the concert came when the choir began its military medley. One by one, the singers performed each of the official songs of the U.S. armed forces’ branches — “The Army Goes Rolling Along” (Army), “Anchors Aweigh!” (Navy), “The U.S. Air Force/Wild Blue Yonder” (Air Force), “Semper Paratus” (Coast Guard) and “Marines’ Hymn/Halls of Montezuma” (Marines).

Each branch’s flag was presented during the songs, and veterans of those individual branches were invited to stand and be recognized in the audience.

The closing of the concert was a medley of “Truth Is Marching On” and “Just As I Am,” followed by the Sousa march.

“I appreciate all of the people who worked so hard to make this concert a success,” said the Rev. Brian Hatchett, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.