Alan Foote will perform Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." in a two-day marathon performance beginning before dawn Sunday morning at Staheli Family Farms.
Following a prayer at 6:30 a.m. and remarks by Veterans Coalition of Southern Utah Chairman William Toole, Foote will begin performing the patriotic song at a rate of about 19 times per hour, with 15-minute intervals in which he will rest his voice.
Foote's goal is to finish the 911th rendition Tuesday morning by 6:46 a.m., the time when the first plane struck the World Trade Center in New York City during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"There have been things in my life that I haven't followed through on ... but this is really an important thing to follow through on, for me," Foote said Thursday. "I would love for the community to stop whatever they're doing at 6:40 on Tuesday and sing with me that 911th time."
Foote has enlisted the assistance of several county merchants as well as the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group, actors who will appear as historical personalities, and veterans' interest groups.
An American Indian flutist will perform Sunday and Monday nights at 8 p.m. as the lights begin to shine, and actors will appear in character Monday evening as former presidents, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross for free family photo opportunities.
Foote said 500 flags have been gathered to create a patriotic field surrounding the tent where he will sing, and the public is invited to bring more. There will also be columns of 3,497 solar lights that will replicate the Twin Towers at night, he said. The number represents the victims killed in the terrorist attacks.
Artificial Creations owner Darrell Phillips, the maker of the foam latex and soft polyfoam masks the patriotic characters will wear Monday, said the actors have sat for casting to make the theatrical props as lifelike as possible.
Free apple pie donated by local stores will be available to the public Monday afternoon and evening while supplies last, Foote's wife, Sandra said, and Staheli Farms will have food for sale Monday for those who want it.
But overall, the event will be a low-key opportunity for people to reaffirm their patriotic values and get information about national defense interests, Foote said.
"No train rides, no duck races," he said. "I call it the ultimate back porch experience. I used to sit on the back porch with my grandparents and share stories. ... This is so people can come share stories."
Foote said he is not doing the performance in an attempt to set a record. The idea grew out of news reports about a New York school program where "God Bless the USA" was removed from the ceremony's song list because the principal feared it might offend some people.
"All of a sudden, I just got angry and I committed to doing this," he said.
Foote also said the event serves as a trial run for a followup event next year.
"It will be with an international flavor ... because patriotism doesn't just belong to the United States," Foote said. "Next year ... people will be able to come and plant flags from other countries."
Written by Kevin Jenkins
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