"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Go! Beat Navy!

Daily Tour Diary 11

By Bonita Cross


Five o'clock this morning arrived much too soon, but it was finally the long-awaited day of secrets-revealed. We knew there was a big event coming, but were kept in the dark as to where we would be. As buses pulled out of the city, a DVD was played featuring choir manager Barry Anderson announcing our secret destination. Ladies and Gentlemen, the United States Military Academy at West Point New York. What a thrill to come to this historic place. It houses over 4000 cadets preparing to lead America's Army. I can't think of a better location to celebrate the Fourth of July than such a place as this.

We were treated to a brief tour of some of the campus then enjoyed lunch—Cadet style—in an enormous hall reminiscent of the great hall at Hogwarts—only much larger. We were taught by a cadet to stand at attention and shout "Beat Navy!" as we sat and chowed down on burgers, dogs, sweet potato fries and corn on the cob.

At concert time, what a treat to take the stage and from there witness the inspiring site of over 1400 brand new cadets march to their place of honor directly in front of the stage.

String players from the Orchestra at Temple Square joined with the West Point Army Band and treated an audience of 12,000 to a world class July 4th celebration. The Choir sang some patriotic favorites including John Williams' "America the Dream Goes On", "Cohan's Big Three" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." There was an amazing trumpet solo, a jazz vocalist, a group sing-along featuring "God Bless, America" and the most fun of all: West Point's own rock band bringing the entire audience to its feet with a selection of several current hits.

Then there were fireworks! Oh what fireworks! From the beautiful Hudson River we were treated to a show that would compete with the grandest shows anywhere in this wonderful land.

It's hard to put into words the feelings that have stirred in my heart today; love for my flag and country; devotion to the military who keep us protected and free and how I must be the luckiest person in the universe to have been part of it.

Best Fourth of July Ever! Oh, and: Beat Navy!