By Donald B. Miller
On December 28, 2018, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law making “Here Rests In Honored Glory” New York State’s Official Hymn of Remembrance in honor of all American Veterans. The composition is scored for SATB chorus, three trumpets, two trombones, tuba, timpani, and organ. This work is intended for any patriotic holiday, concert or service, and is published and distributed by Hal Leonard Publishing, Inc. All composer’s royalties are divided between two veterans’ groups: Paralyzed Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America.
During the 1960s I was eligible for the military draft but was never called to serve. I always felt guilty that I did not serve in the Vietnam War. My feelings of guilt combined with the reception our military personnel received on coming home, led me to want to do something positive. I realized we have a national anthem, but we don’t have a national hymn of remembrance for our veterans. With that, “Here Rests In Honored Glory” was born. The work was created in 1986 and was inspired by the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, and is the only musical setting of the text on the Tomb.
A brief summary of the composition is as follows:
- The piece has been adopted by Paralyzed Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America as their “Official Hymn of Remembrance.” All composer’s royalties go to these two organizations.
- The work has been performed in Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater, the Vietnam Wall, the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, during a Sunday worship service, aired on NPR and other FM stations during Memorial Day and other patriotic occasions.
- In 2006 the work was recorded by the North Carolina Master Chorale, Raleigh, NC, and the sale of the CD benefited TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors). For seven years my wife and I raised money for TAPS, a national organization that serves our military families who have had a loved one die while on active duty. I shall never forget one Memorial Day weekend while attending TAPS’ national conference in Crystal City, VA, a young man and his two young children came up to me and said they were going to go to Arlington National Cemetery to celebrate Memorial Day. He and his children were going to have a picnic. They were going to spread a large blanket over his wife’s grave, play the CD of “Here Rests In Honored Glory” and share a meal. It goes without saying, this was the most humbling experience of my life. I wrote the work to bring honor and comfort to our Veterans and all those who serve. We can never thank them enough.
- In 2008 the work received the George Washington Medal of Honor from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
- In August 2015 in Normandy, France, I was presented the D-Day Medal from the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy by the Curator of the Museum. I was told that each June 6 the museum will play the CD of the work in commemoration of D-Day.
- On December 28, 2018 the piece was established by law as New York State’s Official Hymn of Remembrance in honor of American Veterans.
You may listen to the piece here, performed by North Carolina Master Chorale in Raleigh: https://ensemble.itec.suny.edu/hapi/v1/contents/permalinks/Rg4w8PXs/view.
Donald B. Miller, DMA, is a former New York ACDA President. His career included full-time teaching at Onondaga Community College and part-time at LeMoyne College (Syracuse, NY). He directed choirs, taught classical and jazz guitar, and music history. In retirement he continues to compose and arrange music. His published body of works includes compositions for chorus, guitar ensemble arrangements, and compositions for orchestra and instrumental music.