When your Dad reaches 81 years . . . it can get harder & harder to find. . . just the right gift. Especially for Father's Day. There have been countless ties, books, crafted projects, (& for me quilts too). . . So what's a daughter to do? It's can get a little difficult!
So last spring, after he had seen something on TV, my Dad mentioned to me about the 'Freedom Concerts' & how all proceeds were going to the 'Freedom Alliance' - for scholarships for the sons & daughters of service members killed in action . . . & then when he said, "I'd like to go to that sometime", - I got online & found that they were going to coming to Phoenix, AZ in early August.
That was it. . . ! It was perfect! So it became my 'Father's Day' present for my Dad, & a "date" for us. It's about a 2 hour drive to Phoenix from were we live - but it was worth it. There were some precious memories made that I will never, ever forget.
It was a wonderful concert - focusing on what is so precious to us. . . not only celebrating the precious gift of freedom that we have - but more so the men & women & their families that sacrifice & make it all possible. There were a lot of performers - who were all great - Lee Greenwoood, Charlie Daniels, Rich Little (who has only gotten better & better - & was so very funny with his impressions), & Billy Ray Cyrus. . . but . . . by far my favorite (& the crowds too) performer was Michael W. Smith.
Michael - just seemed to really bring it all home. He sang songs that touched everyone's hearts, & he moved the audience to tears. He talked about how just before the concert, he had met the family (The Daggetts) of a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan a little over a year ago & he found them in the audience & dedicated his song 'How to Say Goodbye' to them.
Hardly a dry eye in the arena. . . & after he finished - something amazing happened. The entire audience - almost quietly clapping - slowly stood & faced the Daggett family - as if to express love & say, "thank you". It was something I've never experienced at a concert. It was humbling, & made us all so very aware of the price of what we take for granted.
For his final song, Michael W. Smith performed a song that he wrote soon after Sept. 11, 2001. It is called 'She Stands', & I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch & listen to this wonderful song here.
The audience was so moved that when Michael W. Smith left the stage. . . the audience called for him to come back for an encore. Seriously. . . he could have performed for the rest of the evening & I think everyone would have been just as happy.
For the encore (which he clearly wasn't prepared for. . .) he sang a little medley of some of his songs, & then had the audience sing with him - first his song 'Friends', then 'America the Beautiful', & then "Amazing Grace". The crowd got out their cell phones (because lighters are no longer allowed in arenas!) & lit up the arena.
It felt a bit magical. . . & very moving. . .
. . . but most special for me was getting to spend this time, sing the songs, shed the tears, & gather these memories with my Dad.
So go. . . have a wonderful day . . . but remember all that is precious to you. . . & give someone you love a hug & let them know how much they mean to you. . . It's so very much worth it.