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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



     It is really cool when your kids do something great, but it is even cooler when it jogs your memory to a time when you attempted the same thing. This past weekend vocal students from around the state of Iowa auditioned for All State Choir. This grouping of elite students from around the state is held every year and the chosen members of the choir and band then perform just before the Thanksgiving holiday and the concert is then broadcast on PBS on the holiday weekend.

     Harvest is hard on me. The long hours usually mean getting home after dark and rushing through chores, grabbing something quick to eat, washing away the grim and dust from the day and then crawling in bed, only to awaken in the dark hours before dawn and head to work to do it all over again. This goes on from the first week after Labor Day to usually just before Thanksgiving depending on the weather and doesn’t take weekends off, unless of course we get one of those wonderful fall soaking rains on a Friday morning. The hours don’t really bother me too much, and even those muscles that I don’t generally use that greet a hot shower with shouts of joy are soon overlooked. But I honestly hate missing out on my kids’ events. Whether it be marching band, or choir auditions or even parent teacher conferences, it is hard enough being an absent Dad without throwing in the seventy-plus hour work weeks.

     One can only imagine how excited I was to get the phone call from my fifteen year old daughter as I was standing at the pit in Casey dumping semi loads of corn. She started to tell me about her audition and how many other kids in her school who tried out made the State Chorus and yet I kept asking her if she made it or not. She’s a good one at telling a story, obviously another of her many talents she has picked up from her old man, and drug me on through a web that only Paul Harvey could spin before telling me that she had been selected too! I didn’t let her know that she made me cry and I tried to hide the tears of happiness from the crusty old farmers whose only thoughts are beating the next rain storm, but I was one proud Dad to be sure. Her hard work and determination had paid off, even if she had already come to the table with extraordinary musical talent.

     It made me remember auditioning for All State myself when I was her age. The same small group of us at Dexfield under the direction of the incomparable Frank Brigham, whose baldness was attempted to be masked by the one thick clump of long hair he swirled on top that would flop down into his eyes when he would use his head to emphasize the down beat of a stanza, kept trying and trying but never were as successful in our endeavors. But in all reality, it wasn’t as big of a deal back then if we made it or not. The four of us enjoyed singing together, and it was the funny things like a sign for “Free Air” that stick with us today. It was in those few weeks of practice and auditioning that I learned to sing better than I had been able to before and that not all music was written in English. And on those special occasions, either as part of an honors choir or at an even like Nordic Fest at Luther College, I learned just what the human voice was capable of or that if you mixed the right balance together the sound could give you Goosebumps.

     So this proud Dad will make the trip up to Ames to see his incredibly talented daughter sing her heart out and I’ll take with me the memory of the other three members of my quartet and hopefully they will feel like they are a part of it as well.

See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.