Group aims to tell local veterans’ stories through songwriting
By ERIN COGGINS
MADISON – A life story, some guitar chords and a few hours of finding the right words turned Hope Church in Madison into a Nashville songwriting showcase last weekend.
Honoring Veterans Legacies partnered with the non-profit Freedom Sings USA to write seven songs about local veterans. The mission of Freedom Sings is to help all veterans, active-duty military and their families reach emotional balance by telling their stories through the creative proves of songwriting.
“We have written over 200 songs for veterans,” co-founder and songwriter Don Goodman said. “It never gets old, never gets tired.”
The seven veterans included six World War II veterans and one from Vietnam. Each veteran sat down with an award-winning Nashville songwriter Saturday morning to tell their stories of war, life and love. In turn, the songwriters crafted each individual’s song and performed them for the veterans and their families that evening.
“These songs did not exist at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning,” Goodmand said. “By 6 p.m., they had meaning, music and lyrics. They changed some lives.”
Harold McMurran was one of the World War II veterans who participated in the event. The 96-year-old veteran served in the Army, stormed Utah Beach on D-Day and participated in the Battle of the Bulge.
“I do not know why anyone would want to write a song about me,” McMurran said. “I just did what I was asked to do.”
McMurran was partnered with songwriter Scott Reeves and an Honoring Veterans Legacies volunteer, Roberta Rogers. After hearing McMurran’s story and about his 75-year marriage to his wife Ruth, Reeves knew he wanted to focus a portion of the song on that special love. He titled the song “I’d Do It Again.”
“Hearing that it will be 75 years for this couple, that really impressed me,” Reeves said to the audience. “And I aspire to that.”
Some of the songs were emotional like McMurran’s song, while others focused on the lively personalities of some of the veterans.
“I could feel the Lord working in these partnerships,” co-founder of Honoring Veterans Legacies Chris Batte’ said. “They were perfect matches. The humorous ones were matched with the humorous veterans and the emotional ones with our veterans that are more emotional in their storytelling.”
The songs will be professionally recorded, and a CD made available so that other veterans know that they are not alone in their experiences. Freedom Sings also places the songs, along with a video, on their YouTube channel.
“The songs are their words,” Goodman said. “We just make them rhyme and then sing them.”