Monday, July 10, 2017
SINGING WITH STEWART BOONE
Last Tuesday, July 4, 2017, the pre-game ceremony between the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds began with the announcement, “There will be no vocal soloist for the National Anthem. The audience is invited to sing along as it is played by Stewart Boone.”
While the anthem has been played many times at baseball games by many instrumentalists, few would do it as memorably as Mr. Boone, age 92, sitting in his wheelchair and proudly wearing his American Legion uniform.
Boone served in World War Two, part of the 924th Field Artillery Battalion that fought in the 1944-45 Battle of the Bulge. It was Germany’s last effort to defeat the Allies, and became one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Boone’s 99th Infantry Division lost 59 of its 70 American soldiers, and whenever Boone plays his trumpet for public occasions, it is in memory of the Army buddies he lost there. “I have a little job that’s ongoing in creating memories for those who have served,” he said.
Stewart Boone began playing the trumpet at age 5, using an instrument his father received as payment for work. By 14, he was playing for military funerals, and he estimates in the years since then he’s played the National Anthem and “Taps” more than 1,200 times for public events. “I play every opportunity I get,” he said. One could see his pride, as he sat erect in his wheelchair and proudly played our nation’s song with hardly a mistake.
Having also played a band instrument and knowing the breath control it requires, I couldn’t help being amazed at the quality of his performance. I wondered whether I, twenty years younger than he, would still have enough lung power left to play as confidently as he did.
The Apostle Paul told the Colossian Christians in chapter 3, verse 17, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
I do not know Mr. Boone’s religious beliefs, but being part of the “Greatest Generation” as he is, I would imagine part of his motivation is to give thanks to God that he made it home alive after that terrible battle. His playing certainly honors those who have served as he did, especially those who didn’t make it home.
What can you do today to give thanks to God in the name of Jesus?
Rev. Bob Tasler, www.bobtasler.come