There’s a reason patriotic concerts by The Master’s Men are so popular: 36 of the 100 members of the male chorus are veterans who served in Vietnam, Germany, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Japan, South America and bases throughout the U.S. They are from all four branches of the military.
The Master’s Men will give a free concert titled “One Nation Under God” in the sanctuary at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus on Wednesday, July 3, at 7 p.m. Retired Southeast Senior Minister Bob Russell also will speak.
Highlights include arrangements of “America the Beautiful,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Lord, Have Mercy” and “Let Freedom Ring.”
Russell said it’s appropriate for Christian people to give thanks for our nation.
“Anyone who thinks our nation is not blessed has not traveled much,” Russell said. “Psalm 33 says, ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.’ It’s not a perfect nation, but it is a blessed nation because in the beginning, we honored God.”
These concerts are deeply personal for those in the chorus as well as those in the audience.
Jim Elliott has been in the Master’s Men 32 years. Fifty years ago this month, he was in Vietnam.
“I think one of the reasons I made it back is to be in a group like this,” Elliott said. “You never know how many people you reach or touch. I hope that when we sing it brings more people to know Jesus.”
Sam Finney, who was in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1973 to 1981, said it’s often hard to maintain composure during patriotic songs.
“We were doing really well during a patriotic concert on Memorial Day until a 92-year-old Marine stood up,” Finney said. “Then it was hard to keep composure. Patriotism means a whole lot to me, along with my faith. We do this as a group, but it’s very personal. We tear up as we sing.”
Jerry Clark was in the U.S. Navy for 30 years, including time in Vietnam on a destroyer.
“We’re grateful they allow us to put this on,” Clark said. “We’re putting the word out to veteran’s groups across the city. It’s a simple way of saying we are grateful for their service.”
Ken Hassel has been in The Master’s Men 29 years. He served in an ambulance unit in Vietnam.
“When you go to another country, you realize how good you have it in America,” Hassel said. “It makes you understand that you’re fighting for a cause—to make sure freedom stays as it should be. These patriotic concerts mean everything.”
Alvin Price was ordered back into service on his wedding day, Aug. 25, 1961.
“My time in the service was a blessing,” Price said. “We don’t have a time in our society today of truly recognizing the cost, investment and sacrifice that people have continuously made throughout our nation’s history.”
John R. Fleming, a colonel in the U.S. Army, served in a 20-bed frontline mobile hospital with the 1st Infantry Division.
During the TET Offensive, they cared for 700 wounded soldiers in seven days. Fleming was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam and has battled three different cancers.
“When we do these concerts, it affirms that it was worth it,” Fleming said. “That somebody out there really cares that we put our lives on the line.”
Patriotic concerts always draw standing ovations.
“That means mission completed,” Fleming said.