It was one of the most emotional songwriting experiences of my life. Luke Garrett was at the piano and Chris Machen and I were walking around the choir room of FBC Carrollton. We had been working on a new song for the musical, “America, We Must Not Forget”, just six months after September 11, 2001. We wanted to write something about the men and women who had sacrificed their lives that fateful day to rescue their fellow citizens and even intervene to defend them.
We understood they were just the most recent examples of the many fellow citizens that have paid the highest price for the freedom we enjoy as Americans.
Luke began with his usual brilliance playing an introduction inspired by “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Chris and I began to write lyrics. Before long we started to sing:
This is the song for heroes – who fight when others run – their honor, trust, and valor – remain when they are gone.
The words just seemed to flow as we tried to express our gratitude for the Patriots who defend freedom.
This is the song of the heroes – this is the anthem of the strong – who strike the chord of courage – defending right from wrong.
This is the song of the heroes – who give no matter what the cost – as they rush to the conflict – their sacrifice will not be lost.
And there we were… three grown men bawling our eyes out.
In the many performances of the song since that day, the result has always been the same. I cry every time. Two such occasions come first to mind:
The premier performance on September 11, 2002 at FBC Carrollton when, at the end of the songm 2,000 people stood and cheered for these heroes for about five minutes. Above all of that sound I could hear one voice – my father, as he was hooping and hollering from the third row. I was so overwhelmed I almost had to sit down.
And, two years later when our high school choir tour travelled to New York, and we stood at Ground Zero and sang the song at the very place that inspired it. Well, the kids sang it – I was too overcome to make a sound.
This Memorial Day, I want to share it with you in tribute to the amazing Patriots – in the military and in public service in law enforcement and emergency services – who value honor more than life. This is a Song for the Heroes.
Click here (or on the photo below) to see the video for Song for the Heroes.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.