September 12, 2013

I grew up in a military family with my dad serving in both the Air Force and Navy. In 1991, I decided to follow in his footsteps and joined the Marine Corps band program as a saxophonist.

I attended recruit training in Parris Island, S.C., combat training at Camp Geiger, N.C., and then U.S. Naval School of Music. I was stationed in Albany, Ga., and Kāneʻohe Bay, Hawaii. My last duty station was in Cherry Point, N.C., which was where I was asked to sing the national anthem for a special event, the 2003 Winston race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The story goes something like this …

The 2D Marine Aircraft Wing Band received a call asking if we could play the national anthem at the upcoming race, because at the last minute American Idol contestant Josh Gracin, a former Marine, was not available for the performance. It was military appreciation day, and a group of Marines overseas was going to give the command live from Afghanistan. The track also asked if our band had a singer to perform the song. My band master asked me if I’d like to do it, and I gladly agreed. I had one week to prepare and get ready for the performance of a lifetime.

It was an amazing experience for me because even though I had played in front of thousands of people numerous times, I had never had the opportunity to sing in front of a crowd. I had performed background vocals in show bands, but this was a totally different experience as a featured vocalist singing our country’s national anthem for a major sporting event on live TV. It was a joyous and proud moment for me as well as my family. My brother-in-law was out at dinner when he saw me on TV and immediately began boasting about my performance to everyone around.

The one thing I was worried about the day of the performance was making absolute sure I did not mess up or forget any of the words. I kept thinking how embarrassing it would be for a Marine to forget the words to the “The Star Spangled Banner” on national TV. To this day, I still remember the words.

I spent 13 successful years in the Marines before joining the U.S. Air Force as an audio and lighting engineer. After completing a 22-year military career, I am excited to now be serving as an audio technician on the JHE team. I never knew JHE did all the opening ceremonies until I joined the event experience company. I’m sure it was the JHE team I worked with then and now I am working with them again. What a small world!

– Steven Moore

Steve Moore, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, U.S. Naval School of Music, Winston Race, Charlotte Motor Speedway, American Idol, Josh Gracin