By OC O’Connor
Lights, Camera, Action! Spectators and guests might get the impression that something big and powerful was about to take place, and they would be absolutely correct.
The spirited backdrop reawakened memory banks, recalling a scene from the movie Patton. Funny thing, many of those in the audience that day may have actually served under Patton. There she was, the flag, vibrantly lit and ever stunning, to remind us all what she stands for: the Red, White, and Blue of Old Glory herself stood for a well-deserved musically patriotic trip down memory lane.
Veterans from the Edith Nourse Rogers VA in Bedford started filling the seats of the auditorium. Special status, front row accommodations, were reserved for our Vets in their wheelchairs. Volunteers from the VA, outside groups and active duty members from the Life Cycle Management Center HAFB assisted Veterans in getting from their rooms to the auditorium. 1st Lieutenant Annemarie Totorica and 2nd Lieutenant Nijha Tasker expressed “deep appreciation for those Vets who came before them;” they noted, “it was a sincere privilege to help out at the VA”.
After all the guests were welcomed, with the energy and enthusiasm from all previous performances distilled into this one very venue, the Singing Trooper Dan Clark began serenading his audience in patriotic song. His stellar reputation for performing with the Boston Pops, for the Patriots, the Red Sox, the Boston Bruins, the Boston Celtics, and at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC (and many more) came through “loud and clear”.
The Singing Trooper’s intrinsic connection to his audience didn’t exist solely through song, he himself served with the United States Marine Corps. To extend generations of military tradition in his family, Dan proudly announced that his son, just a few hours before this event, received notification of his acceptance into Annapolis, at the United State Naval Academy.
Naturally, one could easily appreciate his Esprit de Corp and conviction while singing the Marine Corp hymn, yet each and every song generated a strong, lasting bond with members of the audience. Whether it was “God Bless America”, “Ballard of the Green Beret”, or the hymns from each branch of service, Dan masterfully united souls — from the young to over 101 years of age — in the audience that day.
Of course, the Bedford VA’s relationship with community organizations, with Veteran Service Organizations like the American Legion, VFW, DAV, and many, many more volunteer groups has its own very positive reputation. John Monahan, a member of the Executive Board of Bedford’s American Legion Post 221, reflected “We are so fortunate to have such a tremendously dedicated VA in our backyard. I am in awe of the Volunteer Services personnel who care so much about our Veterans. The invitation to participate, even in the smallest measure, in this year’s National Salute to Veteran Patients is an honor.”
That afternoon, music and song certainly evoked memories associated with comrades of yesterday, images of bygone eras, and sentiments of dedication, loyalty, and service above self. When The Singing Trooper superbly sang his last note of the day, while the audience applauded not wanting the concert to end, Dan Clark stood tall. As powerfully as he sang, Clark addressed each Veteran with a traditional salute of appreciation for their service to our country. For without those Veterans, and all those like them, we would not enjoy the freedoms we cherish every day.