I live in an outer-tier Minneapolis suburb that has, by contemporary standards, an excellent school system. My youngest daughter participated for several years in a school district-wide choir that sings together in the fall: three or four high school choirs, plus a little-kids group of 4th through 6th graders. That was the choir my daughter sang in. In 2007, I returned from a business trip just in time to get to the church where the concert took place. It was excellent; the little kids sang a couple of songs, then each of the high school choirs sang their contributions, most of them classical, and then at the end the whole group came together.
I saw that the massed choirs were going to sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, so a minute or two ahead of time I slipped off to the side where I could record the song on my digital camera, with my daughter’s little kids’ choir in the foreground. I thought it would be good, but didn’t expect it to be memorable. Midway through the song my hand started to shake. It turned out to be one of the most moving things I’ve seen in a long time. I kept filming until the audience’s ovation started, but from my video you get only a faint sense of the enthusiasm with which the audience–the kids’ parents, mostly; who else would care?–received the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
I posted the video three years ago, and it became something of an internet sensation. A couple of veterans’ groups called to ask for permission to play it at their reunions. I said sure. Singing is a whole lot easier than fighting. But the video lived on; I have no idea how many hundreds of thousands of people have now seen it.
Here it is again. What is striking to me is that there is not a single person involved in the production–the choir, the band–who is more than 18 years old, except for the directors, and some of them are 10 or 11. The moral of which is: if they haven’t given up, why should you?
If you like this video and want to use it for any patriotic purpose, just take it–no further permission required. If, like me, you are middle aged and sometimes feel like you are out of gas, take some inspiration from the younger generation which has just begun to fight.