Gala evening featured music, straight talk and patriotism
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, July 22, 2010

The campaign event this past Sunday night at the North Shore Music Theatre was called "Stand Up for America, a Celebration of Freedom." So I stood up for America and celebrated freedom with Bill Hudak, whom I've been supporting in his run for Congress for the past year.

It was to be a gala affair, so Bill wore a tuxedo with a star-spangled cummerbund and tie. I dressed patriotically as well, in navy slacks, a light blue denim jacket, a red shirt, and white hair.

The gala part was my canvas bag with the brightly colored flowers, butterflies and cats, glued on by my twin grandchildren when they were 7. They were the reason I was there, one reason I haven't retired from political activism they and the young people whose performances at the event brought tears to my eyes.

First there were the four young men from the Lynn High School Marine ROTC Honor Guard, marching up on stage to honor the flag while the audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem.

Then, the Bishop Fenwick High School Concert Choir, eight girls and three boys, all elegant in black, singing "Proud to be an American," "Glory, glory, Hallelujah" and "This Land is My Land," a capella, in beautiful harmony.

Next, the program stated there would be performances by two members of something called Lucky Ten, described as a vocal and dance children's group that has received many accolades since its inception in 2007.



The panelists, L to R: Ben Franklin, John Adams, Barbara, Bill Hudak, Todd Feinberg, and Jeff Katz.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Readers, if you weren't there, I am sorry you missed this. If you ever have a chance to attend a program with Lucky Ten, please don't miss it again.

There were two of them for this show, a young lady and a young man: Danielle Starz and Afanasy Prokhorov. I have collected show tunes since my own childhood so have heard some of the loveliest young voices of stage and screen; but I've never heard any more beautiful than these. Danielle's, wide and rich, reminded me of the girls who sing the role of Eponine in "Les Miserables."

Next up was Afanasy, slim and blue-eyed, with long, fair, tied-back hair, a sweet smile, and a voice to shatter your memories of the first time you heard Josh Groban, whose songs he featured. But it was their duet of "My Prayer" that made one want to cry, as they harmonized, "Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way, lead us to the place ... where we'll be safe."

That song was nicely done by Groban and Charlotte Church in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Olympics, but you've never heard it sung like it was in Beverly on Sunday night.

The featured performer of the evening was pianist Nicolai Lomov, now a grown-up American citizen, but who made his concert debut at the age of 15 in his native Soviet Union. After playing four classical selections, including the entire "Rhapsody in Blue," Mr. Lomov treated us to six pieces celebrating his chosen country.

Hudak, wisely not attempting to compete with the teenagers who came before him, recited instead of singing "America the Beautiful," as the pianist played softly in the background.

Bill had promised me that the evening would be "fun," so as I wiped away the patriotic tears as I was invited to join the candidate and the two masters of ceremony, Todd Feinburg of WRKO and Jeff Katz of WXKS, on stage for the last section of the show titled, "Let's Talk." The talk-show hosts and I had expected a four-way discussion and some questions from the audience, but Bill surprised us with two more guests: Founding Fathers John Adams and Ben Franklin, returned from the 18th century in their own gala costumes.

It was going well until Mr. Adams said something about the young country having to get along without a Navy until he formed one during his presidency. Being from Marblehead, I was genuinely indignant.

"Have you not heard of John Glover?" I asked. "How do you think George Washington got across the Delaware?"

My co-hosts laughed to see me arguing with the former president. But sitting next to him, I noted with dismay the blank look in his eyes and thought to myself, "He may not know what I'm talking about."

My next thought was, "Barbara, you idiot, this is not REALLY John Adams!"

I do tend to get caught up in these things.

It really was Ben Franklin, though; he made a point to warn us, again, about letting the country go too deeply into debt. And they both appreciated the question from the audience about the ballot question to cut the sales tax, as I gave them a quick history of Massachusetts tax policy since they'd left.

Then the evening was over and the audience seemed renewed in its determination to help America find its way, to always be an example of a place where children can be safe, and free. This is Bill Hudak's prayer, and mine.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.

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