Gettysburg NMP Invites Trace Adkins to Sing National Anthem

Yes, I find the decision by the Gettysburg National Military Park to invite country music singer Trace Adkins to sing our National Anthem as part of the 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle to be just a little troubling.  My concern has nothing to do with the recent story about his Confederate earring and I understand that Adkins is a strong advocate for battlefield preservation.

My concern goes back to some remarks that Adkins made as part of a sesquicentennial event in Tennessee in 2010.  Here, once again, is the video from that event.

Is Adkins really the best the GNMP could do to find someone to help to bring meaning to the “cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion”?

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35 comments… add one

  • Chuck Feb 22, 2013

    A most unfortunate choice.

  • Brad Feb 22, 2013

    Pretty pathetic. So I assume it’s ok if some pro Union personality goes to speak at a battlefield in the South.

    More than that, though, it’s the assumption that because he’s a personality he’s imbued with some special point of view or intelligence. Let’s face it, country singers, for the most part, represent a view that is more pro-Confederate.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 22, 2013

      I have no problem with a country singer performing the National Anthem. I just have no patience with people who casually flirt with secession as some kind of solution to political disputes. We have a constitution that is strong enough to help Americans work through their problems. We have a strong constitution, in part, because of the sacrifice of them men buried at Gettysburg.

      Once in a while the NPS really disappoints me.

      • bummer Feb 22, 2013

        Kevin
        Who would you have selected?

        Bummer

      • RUTH A. DAVIS Feb 24, 2013

        . WOW,REALLY?WELL I JUST HAVE TO REPLY.THERE IS SO MUCH I COULD SAY TO THIS, BUT AS I READ WHAT YOU WROTE I KNOW I WIULL BE WASTING MY TIME.I WILL SAY, JUST BECAUSE HES A COUNTRY SINGER DOESNT MAKE HIM WORTY. I AGREE SOME DONT. YOU OBCISOUSLY DONT KNOW JACK ABOUT TRACE HISTORY HIS LOVE FOR GOD ND HIS COUNTRY.SO PLZ SCROLL DOWN OR UP TO WE I MADE MY OWN COMMENT BEFORE I SEEN THIS. IM NOT GONNA GET IGNORANT WITH YOU,BUT YOU DONT HAVE ALL THE FACTS, AND YOU ARE STERO TYPING, YA ALL HAGD , AND GOD, A PROUD UNINTED STATES MARINE WIFE THAT ADMIRES TRACE AND ALL HIS DOES FOR COUNTRY AND OURMILITARY.

        • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2013

          Thanks again for stopping by, Ruth.

  • Brendan Bossard Feb 22, 2013

    The issue will remain unsettled only to those who continue to try to brush slavery into the dim, dusty corners of our memory, like Mr. Adkins. It is nothing more than willful ignorance, when one considers all the written articles, declarations, and speeches that prove that slavery was the agitating issue.

    Imagine how great our country could be if people like Mr. Adkins did not continue to try to give life to stillborn notions.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 22, 2013

      Hi Brendan,

      Brushing off the centrality of slavery is minor, in my view, compared to his casual flirting with secession. I don’t care what his political views are, but what I don’t think is justified is for an agency of the federal government to give Adkins a platform.

      • Margaret D. Blough Feb 22, 2013

        I agree, Kevin. I have no problems with a country singer performing the National Anthem but surely they could come up with someone with less baggage. Where are they going to have him sing? On the podium at the National Cemetery where so many lie buried who gave their lives to preserve the Union?

  • Jimmy Dick Feb 23, 2013

    It could be far more worse. They could have gotten Ted Nugent.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 23, 2013

      Good point. :-)

  • John Heiser Feb 23, 2013

    Adkins is a performer and song writer, not a historian, and few like him will ever doubt what their father or grandmother tells them to be so, especially in the South. Whether he has the ability to see beyond that is up to question; certainly was not in 2010 before that audience. The choice of Adkins was not from the NPS but came from a source in the park’s support organization that is organizing and hosting the June 30th event. Whether you agree with his views on the causes and results of the war or not, his rendition of the national athem will hopefully be suitable and heartfelt. Gettysburg is not only a battleground but a site of national reunification and reflection- could he absorb some of that spirit this summer?

    • Kevin Levin Feb 23, 2013

      Hi John,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I am certainly not criticizing Adkins for not being a historian. I stand by my post. Adkins is not the right choice to sing the National Anthem precisely because of the views he has expressed. Thanks for clarifying that the choice did not come directly from the NPS.

  • Barb Gannon Feb 23, 2013

    Gettysburg is the sacred space that commemorated the service and sacrifice of Northern soldiers and the cause for which they “gave that last full measure of devotion.” He should not be in any way central to the commemoration of this battle.

    • Lyle Smith Feb 24, 2013

      Trace Adkins was not a Confederate who fought at Gettysburg against the United States of America.

      There were also Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia troops at Gettysburg on the side of the Union.

  • RUTH A. DAVIS Feb 24, 2013

    OK, FIRST OF ALL BEFORE YOU PUT THINGS INTO PRINT, YOU SHOULD GET THE FACTS STRAIGHT. 1. HE DID NOT OR DOES NOR WEAR A CONFERATE EARRING!!!.ITS AN EARBUD.HES BEEN WEARING THAT FOR YEARS AND ALL OF A SUUDEN AT A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL,OF ALL PLACES, WHERE PEOPLE OUR REJOICING GOD AND THE HOLIDAY.SOMEONE PICKS UP ON THE EARBUD, AND EVERYONE GOES NUTS.OMG, EXCUSE ME BUT DO WE STILL NOT LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE. DO WE NOT HAVE CHOICES? INSTEAD OF GOING BULLISTIC OVER A TINY EARBUD THAT HE HAS WORN FOREVER.WHY DONT YOU REALLY LOOK AT ALL OF HIM NOT JUST AN AIR BUD OR ONE COMMENT SOMEONE DISAGREES WITH.THIS MAN IS NOT ONLY AN AMAZING SONGWRITER AND SINGER. HE IS ONE ONE THE MOST KIND AND CHARITABLE ARTISTS I HAVE SEEN IN DECADES.A FAMILY WITH 5 DAUGHTER WHO ALSO JOIN IN GIVING AND HELPING THE UNFOTANATE. HE HAS DONE COUNLESS USO TOURS, HE WAS ASK TO DO CELEBRATY APP. AGAIN, HE SAID NO!!! SO THEY CALLED HIS WIFE, SHE SAID HE’D DO IR. HE SAID OK, HIS HOUSE BURNT TO THE GROUN WHILE HE WAS IN A PLANE TO ALASKA, THE RED CROSS WAS THERE AS FAST AS THE FIRST RESONDERS. HE WAS AMAZED AND GRATEFUL.SO THATS WHY HE SAID HE’D DO CELB.APP.AGAIN.HE WANTED TO GIVE BACK TO THE RED CROSS. I HAVE BEEN TO HIS CONCERTS , HE HAS HAD A WOUNDED WARRIER IN HIS AUDIENCE WITH THE FAIMILY, HAS CALLED THEM UP AND PRAISED THIS MAN OR WOMAN WHICH HAS SERVED AND GAVE THEM A HEFTY CHECK TO HELP THEIR FAMILY.HE WORKS CONSTANTRLY WITH WOUNDED WARRIERS AND VISITS THEM ALL THE TIME. HE NARRATES A CHILDRENS BOOK, HIS DAUGHTER IS SO ALLERGIC TO SO MANY THING SHE COME CLOSE TO WELL DONT WANNA SAY THE WORD, BUT THAT YOUNG LADY OF 10 WENT TO THE CAPITAL LAST YR AND STOOD UP AND SPOKE IN FRONT OF A;LL THOSE PEOPLE ASKING THAT THEY PUT EPI PENS IN ALL SCHOOLS.IT COULD SAVE A LIFE.HER PARENTS DIDNT ASK HER TO DO THIS .IT WAS HER IDEA.WHY , BECAUSE SHE WAS RAISED BT TRACE& RHONDA ADKINS THE RIGHT WAY.WE NEED MORE MEN LIKE HIM. I COULD GO ON AND ON , YES HE HAS MADE MANY MISTAKES IN HIS LIFETIME, HES ADMITTED FREELY NOT ONLY IN INTERVIEWS BUT INHIS BOOK.(MAYBE YOU ALL SHOULD BUY IT). HE SAID HE WAS A HORRIABLE HUSBAND &MAN. BUT GUESS WHAT, HE CHANGE HIS LIFE AROUND.HES BEEN CLEAN AND SOBER FOR 12 OR MORE YRS , HE QUIT SMOKING, AND HE TRIES TO SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR HIS GIRLS. NOW IF GOD IS FORGIVING, PLEASE TELL ME WHO IN THE HELL DO YOU ALL THINK YOU ARE TO BE SO HARSH, DO YOU NOT HAVE THINGS YOU HAVE REGRETTED.DONT THROW STONES.SHAME . SHAME ON YOU ALL

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2013

      Hi Ruth,

      I assume by your use of all caps that you disagree with my post. First, I stated in the post that I don’t care about his earring/earbud. The post is about Adkins’s views of the Civil War and whether, as a result, he is an appropriate choice to sing the National Anthem at Gettysburg. I have no doubt that he is a caring individual and has suffered some serious setbacks in his life. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      • RUTH A. DAVIS Feb 24, 2013

        MY CAPS WHICH I SHOULD OF EXPLAINED, I APOLOGIXE,IS ONLY BECAUSE I CAN NOT SEE WELL. I USE THEM ALL THE TIME SO DONT TAKE THEM LITERALLY. I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR SAYING, AND I APPRECIATE YOUR OPINION, BUT ID MUCH RATHER HAVE A MAN OF HIS CALIBER SING IT THEN ROSEANNE BARR,JUST AN EX, NUTHIN AT ALL AGAINST ROSEANNE, TY HAGD & GOD BLESS

        • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2013

          Thanks for the clarification. We at least agree that Roseanne Barr would not be a reasonable choice to sing the National Anthem at Gettysburg.

    • Patty Jul 1, 2013

      You are right on—Ruth. Trace is a Louisiana man whose great grandad daddy fought in the Civil War. He does not look at things the way a northern liberal does. He has invested much time in battlefield preservation. They could not have picked anyone better to sing our national anthem.

  • Lorraine Laramee Feb 24, 2013

    I have to agree with Ruth, Trace is a wonderful choice to sing the National Anthem at Gettysburg. Above all, he is a devoted American; and no one sings our Anthem with more reverence and feeling. He is proud of this country and devoted to our service men and women.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2013

      Thanks for the comment, Lorraine. I am not questioning his loyalty. What I am questioning is whether his previous comments make him unsuitable to take part in a ceremony meant to honor men who gave their lives for this Union.

  • Riley Smith Feb 24, 2013

    From reading some of these comments, I think the lines are still drawn North vs South. I suggest you just sit back and listen to Trace singing the National Anthem. It is a rendition that is unbelieveable. He is by far one of the few who can sing it and sing it RIGHT. Ya’ll have a great day.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2013

      I am not sure what your point is regarding a so-called regional divide. I have no doubt that Adkins is a talented singer. That’s not what this post is about.

  • Barb Haloulos Feb 24, 2013

    I wholeheartedly agree with Riley Smith. Trace is a devoted American, stands up for our country, visits and performs for the troops oversees, helps the troops once they return home – Wounded Warrior Project, just to name one, and has a voice that sings with true emotion. I cannot think of any other singer who could sign the National Anthem with as much, feeling, emotion and true passion of being an American, than Trace Adkins.

  • Bill E-B Feb 24, 2013

    Hi Kevin,

    I just recently discovered your blog. Awesome work! I agree with you about Trace Adkins not being a good choice. Anyone who still seriously entertains secession as a legitimate method of dealing with political problems obviously has not learned the lessons of history. Keep up the good work!

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2013

      Thanks for the kind words about the blog.

  • Pamela W. Neilson Feb 24, 2013

    As the great-granddaughter of a Union sailor I find this choice most distasteful. Surely there is an American singer who is supportive of the Union rather than the Confederacy.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2013

      Hi Pamela,

      Thanks for the comment. Let me be clear that I am not necessarily criticizing Adkins for whether he is anti- or pro-Confederacy. I am also not criticizing him for his political views. We can have a meaningful debate about federalism and the meaning of the Constitution. What I am tired of is the talk about states’ rights and secession as not having been settled by the Civil War. It was settled and the men buried at Gettysburg died for it. That is my position.

  • Lyle Smith Feb 24, 2013

    I bet he doesn’t lip synch it. :)

    He’s singing the national anthem, so who cares how well informed he is about Civil War history. Heck, take the opportunity to educate him while he’s there.

  • ajrjar Feb 25, 2013

    Having him sing is an insult to every person of color in this nation, IMHO. This is like inviting a Holocaust denier to speak at a WWII event.

    • Barb Haloulos Feb 25, 2013

      I completely disagree! I do not think you have your facts straight!

      • ajrjar Feb 26, 2013

        Nonsense. As a person of color it upsets me that someone who talks about the Confederacy terrorist group with a twinkle in his eye is allowed to sing at this event. I will see to it that he is struck from the guest list and replaced by a patriotic American who does not forget the evil stain on our history that the Confederacy was.

  • Marooned Feb 28, 2013

    Listening is important. Usually not to the person talking, but to us who are trying to solve problems.

    No doubt Mr. Adkins is a fine family man with lots of charitable actions. However, his misunderstood history easily can mislead more people in more generations.

    There is no question but the need to fight in 1861 was sold to men like Mr. Adkins’ grandfather as defending the ideals of the Founders. And it was sold to them as protecting home and hearth. And, it was sold them as defending “states rights.” So, his grandfather’s grandfather heard the message.

    Unfortunately, it was more a matter of selling the war to people who were already being harmed by the slave economy and who would have gained nothing from a secession victory. But, lesson learned at a grandparent’s knee are the most difficult to correct. There are millions like Mr. Adkins, who learned many different, and wrong messages… not just about the Civil War.

    Honestly, Mr. Adkins’ wrong history bothers me less than the many people who are still creating false history.

    Now, where did he get that long-hair story?

    • Kevin Levin Feb 28, 2013

      Without the central issue of future of slavery in the western territories there is no secession of the Deep South. No serious historian disputes this and the states themselves reinforced it in their secession documents and in the speeches of their key leaders.

      I’ve said before that I have no problem with serious debates about the proper scope of the federal government. Debates about federalism have been the bread and butter of our national conversation concerning the Constitution from day one. What I object to is the notion that states’ rights or the right of a state to secede from the Union has not been settled. If that is what Adkins is suggesting than he has no business being at the Gettysburg 150.

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