The program featured musical performances from the CAIFA Choir and Band, as well as performances by a children’s choir, under the direction of Melissa Leavitt, the Southern Utah Hand Bell Choir, directed by Donna McNabb, and Color Country Winds.
Father Bob Bussen, of Christ the King Catholic Church, opened the concert by welcoming the community to the event.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to make available our sacred space for us to pray and sing and be together as we honor our country,” he said. “CAIFA is a wonderful organization, an organization of various religions and religious communities that live here in the Cedar area.”
Bussen took the occasion to share a story from his experience in sitting on a discussion and interview panel, comprised of various members of the religious community in the area, at the recent Governor’s Honors Academy at Southern Utah University. He said one student, hoping to elicit some interesting responses, asked what is said of the other panel members behind their backs.
“I was pleased to say, ‘Behind our back, we say exactly what we say to each other … here in front of you. That’s because, while you may think we’re in competition with each other, we’re all really good friends.’”
“Tonight is kind of a unique opportunity in Cedar City, where you can meet with your neighbors of varying faiths to give praise and thanks to God for the goodness of our country,” he concluded.
The choir and band performed several patriotic musical selections, including “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor” and “America the Beautiful,” interspersed with readings by members of the choir. The children’s choir performed a medley of folk tunes and “Freedom Song,” after which the Southern Utah Hand Bell Choir, with Emily Britt on piano, performed several numbers. The choir and band concluded with a tribute to George Cohan, with Bryan Paul as soloist, followed by “God Bless America,” as the congregation, some waving American flags, joined in the final verses.
Ruth Kinney concluded the concert with an inspiring reading just prior to the benediction and community ice cream social.
“Each of us is responsible for the effort we make as a community to come together in unity to do the work that makes a community, built solidly on a firm foundation of faith and hope, a community of welcome, of nurture for our youth to bring them up to be the sons and daughters of that faith and hope,” she said.
“On March 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address to a hurting, yet hopeful nation, just as we are today,” she continued. “May his words once again become the song and the heart cry of the American people. ‘With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.’ ‘With high hope for the future,’ God bless America.”