Society & Culture

Shelburne youth sings “God Bless the USA” Sept. 10 in Montpelier

Ray Bowen begins singing at 58:31, after introduction by Celebrate America co-organizer Ellie Martin.

by Guy Page

An unexpected pleasure of attending the Friday night Celebrate America event in Montpelier was hearing a talented young man proudly stand up and celebrate America in song.

Ray Bowen of Shelburne is a 17 year-old-senior at Champlain Valley Union High School. With proud mom and vax freedom advocate Susan Bowen in audience, Ray delivered Lee Greenwood’s classic ode to America with poise and style. His vibrant lead baritone voice carried the song on pitch and in the pocket.

Bowen sang with confidence uncommon in one so young, especially considering he was performing before a packed ballroom of close to 300 people. If he felt nervous, it didn’t show. His Vermont ad-lib provoked laughter and cheering. Best of all, you could tell he sang from the heart.

Afterwards I complimented him on his performance and asked about his singing experience. As it turns out, he’s been singing in school choruses, musicals and a cappella groups for years. This wasn’t his first big gig. And clearly it won’t be his last.

Bowen wasn’t the only young person to hit it out of the park Friday night. Event co-organizer Ben Olsen of Essex Junction delivered open remarks that almost upstaged everything that followed. Excerpts below, courtesy of YouTube footage by all-star RebirththeMedia videographer Rohan Isloved: 

“Tonight is about We the People coming together. We’re concerned about our freedoms being infringed upon. I am a born and raised Vermonter married 14 years to my high school sweetheart. I’m a Catholic, a family man to three beautiful kids with number four on the way, and I’m an entrepreneur [editor add:]. I am blessed to be living the American Dream. Like all of you I just want to live and let live. I want to garden, chainsaw, travel, crossfit. I wouldn’t mind a muscle car in my garage at some point.

“I am busy just like all of you. But our world needs people to be involved. This place doesn’t run itself. And so here I am.

“We’re here tonight because we love, love our country. We love this beautiful state. We love our freedom and we want to preserve it for future generations. We want to leave it as good or better than the way it was handed to us.

“Our world needs people to be involved. This place doesn’t run itself.”

Ben Olsen – father, businessman, activist

“As Americans we have so much in common. Yet we’re led to division. We may be concerned about some similar things: election integrity, freedom of religion, public educational system, our economy, Second Amendment rights, spending, debt and taxes. Our Constitution being upheld as it was written. Abuse of power by an overgrown bloated government. Dishonesty in the media and the suspicious coordination among them. Social media censorship. Personal health rights and privacy. Corruption.

“We The People – I’ve come to love that phrase lately. It’s the one thing that the world managers are afraid of, is all of you waking up and realizing that you have given your trust to people who have abused it. You have given your health to people who have abused it. And they’re afraid that you might wake up your neighbor. You might become friends with somebody who a year ago you disagreed with, but now you’re waking people up.

“And if enough of We The People can wake up – these entrenched politicians, they’ve built a house on a foundation of sand. It’s time to band together and stand up against the systematic division of neighbors against neighbors. One love!

“So, what can you do tonight? Make connections with people. We’re all neighbors. We’re all flesh and bones. We’re physical and social beings. Let’s commit tonight to making great connections. 

“I’m not always right. You’re not always right. But we need to talk. They don’t want us to talk. They just want us to watch the five o’clock news, listen to it driving home, get our script, and go home. Our voices are being ignored. We need to become a force to be reckoned with. And that’s what this group [] is about. That’s why we’re here tonight.” 

We’re sick of it. We want to be heard. We want people to listen to us. Okay, we’re willing to listen to them. It gets shoved down our throats. We want to be able to be treated equally. We want you to hear the things that we believe.”

Yesterday, Vermont Daily Chronicle posted photos and videos from the Celebrate America event Friday night and Celebrate Freedom Saturday morning. Tomorrow: what concerned Americans can do about China.

Categories: Society & Culture

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