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In Iraq: When the Music Stopped—the National Anthem

9 April 2010 2 Comments

This was written by Chaplain Jim Higgins LSA Anaconda. He currently is serving at the Ballad Airport in Iraq, north of Baghdad. “Please share only if you are so inclined, he wrote.” I am inclined.

The Music Stopped

For those who are unaware: At all military base theaters, the National Anthem is played before the movie begins.

“I recently attended a showing of ‘Superman 3′ here at LSA Anaconda. We have a large auditorium we use for movies, as well as memorial services and other large gatherings.

As is the custom at all military bases, we stood to attention when the National Anthem began before the main feature. All was going well until three-quarters of the way through The National Anthem, the music stopped.

Now, what would happen if this occurred with 1,000 18-22 year-olds back in the States? I imagine there would be hoots, catcalls, laughter, a few rude comments, and everyone would sit down and yell for the movie to begin. Of course, that is, if they had stood for the National Anthem in the first place.

Here in Iraq, 1,000 Soldiers continued to stand at attention, eyes fixed forward. The music started again and the Soldiers continued to quietly stand at attention. But again, at the same point, the music stopped. What would you expect 1000 Soldiers standing at attention to do ?? Frankly, I expected some laughter, and everyone would eventually sit down and wait for the movie to start.

But No!!… You could have heard a pin drop, while every Soldier continued to stand at attention. Suddenly, there was a lone voice from the front of the auditorium, then a dozen voices, and soon the room was filled with the voices of a thousand soldiers, finishing where the recording left off: “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

It was the most inspiring moment I have had in Iraq, and I wanted you to know what kind of Soldiers are serving you. Remember them as they fight for us!

Pass this along as a reminder to others to be ever in prayer for all our soldiers serving us here at home and abroad. Many have already paid the ultimate price.
             -Chaplain Jim Higgins LSA Anaconda is at the Ballad Airport in Iraq, north of Baghdad

  • Allow me to add a sad and disturbing story from here in Norfolk, Virginia. About two years ago I went to a high school soccer tournament. A girls’ game had just concluded and the boys’ game was about to begin. The girl players from the game just completed were all in the large bleachers, still in uniform, gathering their equipment bags, chatting and cooling down from their game. The beginning of the boys’ game was signalled by the playing of the national anthem over the PA system. The hundred or so people in the stands stood up, most took off their caps and stood at attention. As the music played, the girls below completely ignored the song and continued to talk on their cell phones, talk with each other, walk over the bleacher seats to get to their bags, open their bags, adjust the content, sit, stand, walk, chat, make more cell phone calls. I was appalled. The school was Maury High School of Norfolk, Norfolk’s oldest high school. The girls were all white, most their fair hair in ponytails. Maury, like most schools in this city is majority black, the blacks coming from economically modest families for the most part. But Maury’s district encompasses some of the oldest and nicest neighborhoods in the city. The girls represented, for the most part, the daughters of professionals and the affluent. No doubt they lived in comfortable homes, probably drive a car to school and are bound to enter college upon graduation from high school. Many from Maury go on to America’s more selective colleges. Yet their disrespect for their nation and their nation’s anthem was blatant and disrespectful in the extreme. How did they get this way? What has happened in their homes, in their classrooms and in their high school networking that could allow them to be so purposely insulting to their own nation? We are a nation that is increasingly being formed up into two camps: those who love, understand and respect our nation’s traditions and those who dislike and deliberately show disrespect for the nation. God help us.

  • Bumper

    In case you missed it, check this out:


    The National Anthem was sung by five young ladies (ages 6-8).
    You have never heard it performed better than this! An entire arena remains completely silent throughout the song. You could hear a pin drop. Take a moment to listen to this.
    The two young ladies on the right are 6 years old.
    The two in the middle are 7 and the one on the left is 8.