Everyone loves a good Fourth of July celebration. I mean, can you get much better than delicious food, bright fireworks and great times?
I know of only one way to improve that combo: getting to watch one of your favorite celebrities perform while you enjoy all the other Independence Day fun. And that's exactly what I got to do at this year's "Stadium of Fire" at Brigham Young University in Provo.
There was entertainment for almost everyone as local Utah performers took the stadium stage. Jennie Oaks Baker excited us with energetic fiddle tunes and the Osmonds Second Generation harmonized through a tribute to the more than 200 Boy Scouts who received their Eagles that night at the stadium. The Five Browns, all graduates from Julliard, amazed us as they sat at their grand pianos and played a fun "Star Wars" medley. But all of these wonderful performances were just the beginning; the real star of the night was country sensation Carrie Underwood.
This singer dazzled the entire audience with songs from all three of her hit albums. I've been an Underwood fan for nearly her entire career, and she did not disappoint. Throughout the show you could see her waving at fans in the audience, smiling and enjoying the entire event. She got the crowd involved by having us clap and sing along. I sang and cheered so loud that I was surprised to find that I still had a voice the next day.
Underwood performed some of my personal favorites, including "Cowboy Casanova," "Undo It" and "All American Girl." Listening to her sing "Just a Dream," a song about a girl whose sweetheart is killed at war, was especially poignant knowing that "Stadium of Fire" was being broadcast to our troops overseas.
Underwood added a personal touch to the Fourth of July show that I really liked. By the time she finished her last song, I felt like I knew her as more than just a celebrity. She talked about how her career got started on "American Idol" and why she decided to try out. I liked how she told us which of her songs were her favorites and why they were special.
The show was, overall, amazing. The fireworks were bright, loud and definitely beat out any other fireworks display I had ever seen in my life. Take the grand finale of any local fireworks show and you get about a three- minute portion of the "Stadium of Fire" fireworks display. It was spectacular!
"Stadium of Fire" was a true tribute to America. The music, fireworks and performances were all wonderful, but the most stirring part of the entire performance was the flag ceremony. Boy Scouts lined the field, creating paths for troops from each division of the armed forces. As the different divisions marched past, those in the audience who had ever served in that division stood, giving us a chance to honor them and the sacrifices they made for our country.
Once the different divisions were in place, the whole audience rose -- 50,000 strong -- to say the Pledge of Allegiance. As we finished the pledge, Carrie Underwood walked onto the stage and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner." It was the most moving and beautiful rendition of our national anthem that I had ever heard. It ignited tender feelings of gratitude for this country and the freedoms we enjoy.
Hillary Slaughter will be a senior at Layton High School this fall. She loves reading, crafts and "the great outdoors." You can reach her at email@example.com.