LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – The East Limestone High community showed their patriotism on graduation day last Friday when the sound went out during Marti McCrary’s rendition of the national anthem.
McCrary, who has sung the national anthem many times and performs throughout the community, loves singing. She said it’s one of her biggest passions, and she only gets nervous to sing that particular song.
“When it’s one of my songs, or when it’s songs that others have written, I’m fine,” she stated. “But when it’s the national anthem, that’s a big song! If you mess it up, everybody knows it!”
She said when she stood in front of everyone at the graduation, she wasn’t feeling scared but her heart was racing. Still, she remembers it went well through the majority of the song.
“That was probably the best performance I’ve had so far with that one,” she explained, “until the mic cut out.”
As McCrary worked to close the song, she was no longer audible.
She takes us through that moment: “I was just like, oh, great! That’s awesome,” she stated, “But everybody just started singing immediately!”
The crowd, without missing a beat, began singing all around her. They picked up the song right where she left off and carried it to the end.
“I will never forget it. I mean, it was immediately after the mic cut out, they all started singing. It was so amazing,” she said. “I was scared after it cut out, because I thought I was going to have to sing by myself and I was going to have to go through this alone, but everybody started singing and it made my heart melt because it was so sweet. It made me proud.”
One graduate who was in the audience said he stood ready to jump in.
“It’s natural for me, every time I hear that song, I’m always singing it. I was singing it with her. And when the mic cut out, I was right there with her,” said Andrew Duffield. “I was singing it along from there.”
But another graduate had a different reaction.
“I started looking around like, where did this come from?” said Chris Stegall. “It shocked me.” But he added, “I felt proud to be an American. Like there is still hope.”
That seems to be a common sentiment. Some on social media say this moment gave them chills. Others said it was a moment of unity.
“I want them to see that our school cares and that our school is a community,” said McCrary.
“It just shows how strong our community is and how strong that song is to the nation,” said Duffield. “That one song, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, that song will always bring people together.”
Video of that moment has since gone viral. McCrary says she is pleased with the reaction. Even though she never got to finish her performance with a working mic, McCrary said of the audio error, “I think that made it all the better!”