By Galen Patterson
The annual Celebrate America choral performance took place on June 23, in the Arcadia Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The welcoming ceremony began with Bishop Mike Miller of the Arcadia Stake graciously thanking his guests for their attendance, while the audience sat in silence. With the presentation of colors, a nationally-recognized ritual of public gathering in which the U.S. flag is presented and retired, the music began. “We’re setting the mood for the 4th of July,” a singer said, “That’s what music does, it sets the mood.”
The Southern California Mormon Choir sang three acts, each consisting of a minimum of three classic arrangements.
Between the second and fourth act, U.S. Army Veteran Michael K Parson spoke to the audience. Parson is the recipient of the Purple Heart and Air Medal, received for his service in Vietnam. According to the U.S. military, “The Air Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the armed forces of the United States, shall have distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.” The Purple Heart is awarded to those injured by a weapon of the enemy.
In the audience was Glade Merkley, a former Bishop of the Arcadia Stake, U.S. Army veteran and original founder of the Celebrate America event 34 years ago. “[The concert] pays tribute to the country I love,” Merkley told Arcadia Weekly.
Also in the audience were representatives of different branches from the U.S. military. One of the servicemen, Petty Officer First Class Stenberg of the U.S. Navy told Arcadia Weekly “being asked to represent the Navy means representing all Naval personnel, and that’s truly an honor.”
The Southern California Mormon Choir will be heading to Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, to perform later this year at the centennial celebration of the signing of the armistice that ended combat in WWI.