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In the mid-1970s, when it was still acceptable for public school students to love their country, I was in a small singing group called Sounds of Liberty formed by my high-school choir director. It was, of course, organized for the occasion of the nation’s bicentennial. My audition to be included in the troupe featured not only singing but flute-playing and tap-dancing. All talents were on call. We were putting on a show.
As I recall, we performed locally and on school-break tours for a year and a half or so, ending on 7/4/1976. We had three costume changes for the three segments: one on religious music (I sang a solo of “Ave Maria”), one on regional songs (I did a tap dance to “The Sidewalks of New York”), and one on patriotic tunes (or so I think it must have been; can’t remember what I played the flute to).
The bicentennial was such a big deal. I remember being a little steamed that I had been born one year too late to be in the Class of 1976; 1977 just didn’t have the same ring. But being in Sounds of Liberty made me feel part of it somehow, however long-forgotten our endeavors might now be. Since we played a lot of old folks’ homes, there may actually be no audience members left to remember.
If you’re old enough to have participated in America’s landmark birthday blowout, do you have any warm bicentennial memories for us to huddle around now that there’s such a chill over freedom and liberty and patriotism? And can you imagine what sort of celebration will greet the tricentennial? Will there even be one? Will it mark a great renewal of patriotic fervor? Or will some poor kid have to tap-dance to the latest socialist dirge?Published in