Sometimes an event takes on a life of its own. For Dr. Dan Thompson, that is what is happening with a musical presentation set to memorialize the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
“America, We Must Not Forget,” is a multi-media musical presentation involving 60 singers from 20 different congregations. The cantata-type production memorializing the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 9, 10 and 11 at Everett Hills Baptist Church.
Thompson, part-time choir director at Everett Hill Baptist and coordinator for the presentation, said the idea for pulling together a community program came about earlier this year. “I’m a member of a book preview club for music directors, and they sent out a packet of material for church music directors. I received a copy of the track of this music entitled, ‘America, We Must Never Forget.’ It was actually written in 2002, the year following 9/11. Since this is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, they were re-releasing it,” he said.
Thompson said when he got the package, he was thinking about buying it for his own church. “But I really couldn’t rest over that. Have you ever had this inclination that wouldn’t let go? That is what happened with this music,” he said. “I started calling music directors of other churches and asking if they wanted to be involved, and they got excited.”
Within weeks of recruiting other churches to participate, there were 60 members ready to sing from 20 different congregations.
“We have representatives from more than 20 different churches of multiple denominations - from Presbyterians and Methodists to Baptists,” he said. “We’ve got 60 singers from multiple churches and denominations all coming together in this multimedia musical program.”
Thompson said the program has taken on a life of its own. “We’ve seen enthusiasm grow from one church to the next. I’m very excited about this music presentation and so are lots of people in the community,” he said. “I think we’re going to make a difference in the lives of those who come and hear it. The quality of the choir is astounding. It is very good music.”
Thompson said there will be a DVD playing during the musical program and a color guard from William Blount High School will be coming in each night to present the colors. “There is recognition in the musical program for people who are firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel as well as veterans and active duty military and the families who lost loved ones in service - either on the local level or in service to our country,” he said. “It is really neat. It is an hour in length, and every night we’ll have a processional of people representing those various occupations and fields who will come in at the beginning.”
Thompson said this program is a call to prayer for the country.
“In the DVD there are shots from the 9/11 attacks, shots from different military groups, firefighters and recognition of some of our heritage as a country,” he said.
Thompson said there are three sections to the presentation. “The first is ‘We Remember Our Heritage,’ and it takes us back to the Founding Fathers. That is where we bring in the military,” he said. “The second section is ‘We Remember Our Heroes,” and it shows firefighters, police and military. The last section is ‘We Remember Our Hope,’ and it talks about how God has blessed our country and that we should pray for America.”
Thompson said he spoke over the weekend with a woman whose brother, Butch Crabtree, was in high school with him. “I remember when I wound up having dinner with him at an A&W in Loudon a day or two before he deployed to Vietnam,” he said. “He was the starting quarterback at Maryville College, and he was killed in Vietnam.”
Thompson said part of his enthusiasm for this project is rooted in how he saw the returning service personnel who fought in Vietnam ignored and not properly recognized for their sacrifice. “They turned their backs on those who served our country, and we never want to do that again. We want to say ‘Thank you’ to those who have served our country and call on God’s blessing to protect our nation.”
Admission to the concert is free. Everett Hills Baptist Church is located at 401 S. Everett High Road, Maryville. For more information, call 865-603-2581.