Melissa Dunphy's new composition "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?" was selected as the winning work for the 2010 Simon Carrington Chamber Singers Composition Competition. The Philadelphia-based composer's choral work sets excerpts of public testimony given by a WWII veteran before the Maine Senate in a hearing to discuss the Marriage Equality Bill.
"What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?" was performed on May 29, 2010, at Grace and Holy Trinity in Kansas City, MO and First Presbyterian Church in Lawrence, KS. This video is taken from initial footage of the recording session on May 30, 2010, at Blessed Sacrament Church in Kansas City, KS.
The piece was selected from a pool of over 100 submissions, from over 70 composers, hailing from 10 different countries. In choosing the work from a narrowed-down, committee-selected pool of nine finalists, music director and conductor Simon Carrington gave his reasoning behind selecting Dunphy's work as the winner. "There were plenty of excellent pieces in the sweet-sounding modern idiom which SCCS would make very beautiful, but the strongest (and most individual) piece was Melissa Dunphy's What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach? -- a bold and highly effective setting of a thought-provoking text."
PHILLIP SPOONER'S TESTIMONY (excerpted) and TEXT FOR WHAT DO YOU THINK I FOUGHT FOR AT OMAHA BEACH?
Good morning, committee. My name is Phillip Spooner and I live at 5 Graham Street in Biddeford. I am 86 years old and a lifetime Republican and an active VFW chaplain ... I was born on a potato farm north of Caribou and Perham, where I was raised to believe that all men are created equal, and I've never forgotten that.
I served in the U.S. Army, 1942-1945 ... I worked with every outfit over there, including Patton's Third Army. I saw action in all five major battles in Europe... I was in the liberation of Paris.
(I have seen much, so much blood and guts, so much suffering, much sacrifice.)
I am here today because of a conversation I had last June when I was voting. A woman ... asked me, "Do you believe in equality for gay and lesbian people?" I was pretty surprised to be asked a question like that. It made no sense to me. Finally I asked her, "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?"
For freedom and equality. These are the values that make America a great nation, one worth dying for.
My wife and I did not raise four sons with the idea that our gay son would be left out. We raised them all to be hard-working, proud, and loyal Americans and they all did good.