A Kansas Middle school chorus sang the National Anthem to a Navy Veteran at a Pizza Parlor. Their teacher saw his Navy hat and asked the chorus if they’d sing to him. It made such an impression that they were asked to sing at his funeral three months later.
Roy Fred Blackburn was eating lunch with his wife at the Pizza Street shop in Olathe, Kansas. He was on oxygen, and in hospice at the time, but had ventured out for a bite of pizza. He served in the Navy for 6 years, and as a Johnson County firefighter officer for 20 years.
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Thirty chorus students from the Kansas Middle School (Mission Trail Middle School) and their teacher were on their way to sing at a local senior citizen’s home and had also stopped for a bite to eat. When Chorus teacher Teresa Murray Posey spied Blackburn’s US Navy veteran hat, she asked her students if they would be willing to sing the National Anthem to him. An impromptu song? They were up for it.
As they started to sing, restaurant patrons started to stand.
Although it was a simple gesture, Murray Posey recalled thinking, “let’s sing to him.”
So, she turned to her students and asked if they would be willing to sing the national anthem. Without hesitation, they agreed.
“He was on oxygen and he stood up and took his hat off and his wife stood up,”‘ Murray Posey said.
The entire restaurant stopped what they were doing and stood up alongside the veteran, she said.
“They were crying. They were all in tears. The restaurant was in tears,” Murray Posey said.
All the Kansas Middle School kids lined up to give Mr. Blackburn a hug after the anthem. Blackburn passed away in February 2020, just three months after the touching moment. The chorus was again asked to honor the community member by singing at his funeral.
Does the National Anthem matter? It does to veterans and those of us who still love our nation. These chorus members may not realize the full impact of the respect they showed to a Navy veteran, but it wasn’t lost on the patrons who watched it.