A large crowd gathered at Dothan’s First Baptist Church last week, but there wasn’t any preaching – not in the traditional sense. The event was advertised as an evening of patriotic music performed by the relatively new Tri-State Community Choir and the 151st Army National Guard Band, two days before Independence Day.
If the standing-room-only audience hoped to be roused into a patriotic frame of mind, it got what it came for. But there was much, much more.
There was the opportunity to hear the product of hours of rehearsal from more than 100 volunteer singers from 14 cities in the Wiregrass area, voices coaxed into shape by diligent direction of Laura Grace Holmes, the group’s artistic director. The 151st band, too, is composed of men and women who take part in their initiative simply for the love of music. The talents of both groups are outstanding.
Perhaps most moving was an address by Staff Sgt. Bobby Dove, who now operates a fishing charter in the Florida panhandle. Sgt. Dove, like far too many of our military personnel, received extensive injuries after striking an IED while on patrol in Afghanistan. He spoke frankly and sincerely about his journey, and the importance of rediscovering purpose after profound changes in his life’s trajectory, and his message should give those who heard it a greater appreciation for the challenges our uniformed personnel face.
The event was brought together through the efforts of Hits for Heroes, a volunteer group established locally by Angela Dunning and others who hope to raise awareness challenges such as Dove’s, and help fund programs to assist veterans.
These are friends and neighbors, regular people you may encounter every day, doing extraordinary things to improve life in our community in general, and in specific.
We salute them all.