Written by Rachel Shapiro Friday, 16 July 2010 00:00
It was seven years after Pat Seminario wrote the song Freedom’s Cry that his son, also named Patrick, suggested they upload the song and accompanying video to YouTube. Now, a few months after the stirring song and slideshow appeared online a positive series of events have occurred that Seminario says he never expected.
Seminario, who grew up on Rope Lane in Levittown and still has family living there, is going to perform his song in front of an estimated 60,000 people at “Salute the Armed Forces Festival” in a town called Stickny outside Chicago on August 13-15.
The proceeds from the festival will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, the USO and mom4rmarines, a Pennsylvania-based charity for troops stationed in Afghanistan.
“It doesn’t seem real to me,” Seminario says to the Levittown Tribune. “After seven years, I wasn’t sure I could gather myself.”
Seminario, who served in the U.S. Air Force in 1979 as a security specialist for nuclear weapons at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ,, felt moved to write about American troops. He wrote Freedom’s Cry, after watching the movie We Were Soldiers, he says.
“It just got to me and I wept for four hours,” he says. “One morning on the way to church, I looked at my wife and something was bubbling up inside of me. The song came to me in the middle of church. I went home and wrote the song in 15 minutes.”
The song begins with the lyrics, “Say a prayer for the gallant soldiers, may God speed their safe return, say a prayer for the lost and wounded, pray God heals their scars and burns” and continues for over four minutes, saluting soldiers, their families and asking God’s protection over them.
“The recording studios told me they wouldn’t touch it because it talks too much about praying,” Seminario explains. But several people saw much potential in the song, setting off a chain of events that will culminate in Seminario’s performance in August.
With the help of Seminario’s nephew, Nick Moore and Moore’s friend Ian Norman, a video slideshow was created as a backdrop to the song, making it all the more poignant as Seminario was then able to post it on YouTube. Seminario’s brother, Michael, has also helped with the technological aspects of the video, posting it on other Web sites.
“It’s all about others, not me,” he says of the song. “All I did is write, sing and record the song. It’s about God and country; it’s about giving, and caring about others. It’s about the values my father and so many other men fought for on Normandy Beach.”
This song is a different type of song than Seminario is used to singing.
“I lived a selfish life for 30 years,” he says. “I led a wild life with four marriages. I opened for people like Frank Sinatra Jr., Rodney Dangerfield, Jackie Mason, Barbra Eden, Debbie Reynolds. I made it to Las Vegas. Then my life fell apart along with my career.”
After divorcing his fourth wife and suffering with severe back pain, Seminario says he fell into a depression, living by himself in a one-room apartment for seven years.
He immersed himself in caring for his granddaughters, Gabrielle, 8, Isabela, 6, Sophia, 2 and Lily, 1 ½.
“The last seven years have just been about serving them,” he says. “I have been pretty much a broken guy except for my granddaughters.”
Amidst Seminario’s turmoil, the song he had neglected for so long popped up on YouTube and a woman named Patty Lewis took notice.
Lewis, a Pennsylvania resident and mother of a U.S. Marine, founded the group mom4rmarines.org, after hearing stories of need from her son, Cpl. Brian Lewis who served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
“I saw how people assumed the government gives our guys what they need, and they don’t,” Lewis tells the Tribune. “My son lost 14 killed in action and I wanted to do something to take care of the families. So I formed the group and I take care of entire units’ needs, not care packages for individuals.”
Lewis says she sends much-needed basic supplies like Dr. Scholl’s work boot insoles, weapon cleaners that help keep sand out and headlamps, shipping them directly to troops stationed in the most remote areas of Afghanistan.
She can’t remember how she originally heard about Freedom’s Cry or Seminario but says, “I just know that somehow one day I went to YouTube and saw Freedom’s Cry. Lewis contacted the songwriter about four months ago and introduced him to Ed LeTourneau, a Chicago man who was planning the “Salute the Armed Forces Festival.” Lewis essentially said, “You have to hear this guy,” LeTourneau tells the Tribune. LeTourneau in turn says, “I want this guy,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
Seminario credits Lewis with being one of the people who, through selfless acts, helped him and his song be heard.
“If anything comes out of this I’m going to donate heavily to her organization,” he says. Seminario says he also hopes to donate to widows who lost their husbands fighting for their country.
“He’s had some suffering in his life and he has this passion,” Lewis says. “His passion is for the veterans, for the troops, for the country.”
In addition to posting the song on YouTube and performing at the upcoming festival, a shorter version of Seminario’s video has been entered into the “Great American Video Contest” on the Sean Hannity Show’s Web site. Four videos will be chosen by August 1, and between August 2 and 5 visitors will be able to vote for their favorite video. The creator of the video with the highest listener voting score will receive a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, among other things.
Freedom’s Cry is also available for download at Napster.com and iTunes.
“The passion in his music is unbelievable,” Lewis says of Seminario.
“After seven years, I was startled that anyone even cares,” Seminario says.
There are a few people who are on Seminario’s mind often because their lives ended too abruptly. It’s people like them that Seminario thinks of with Freedom’s Cry.
“When I was in ninth grade, I got a phone call on Easter Sunday, my parents were at a neighbor’s,” Seminario says. “Raymond Insley just got killed in Vietnam. I’ll never forget that.”
He also remembers two men with whom he grew up in Island Trees who were killed on 9/11.
“I live with these guys in my heart all the time,” Seminario says sadly. “Their families and the sacrifice they made.”
Seminario, LeTourneau and Lewis coordinated to somehow get Seminario, who says he is hurting financially, from Tennessee where he lives now, to Chicago for the event.
LeTourneau, a plumbing contractor by day and a pyrotechnic enthusiast by night with a heart for veterans, is paying for Seminario’s airfare to and from the festival, as well as welcoming him into his home for the duration of the festival.
“His music needs to be heard, I heard his song and said, ‘he needs to come in’,” LeTourneau says.
“I realized I did not serve my country,” LeTourneau says. “ So now I take very good care of veterans, whatever I have to do I take care of them.”
Although Seminario was grateful for the outpouring of support, both financially and emotionally, initially he was hesitant to accept the offer to perform.
“I had doubts whether I could even do it,” Seminario says. “The last time I was on a stage was 2002 and the last time I sang a note was 2003.” But with a little prodding and the belief that he answered to a higher calling, he agreed to sing both Freedom’s Cry twice during the festival, as well as open the entire festival with The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“For 30 years, in show business it was all about me, me, me and I paid a huge price for it,” Seminario says. “Chicago can change all that. God is calling me. Everyone wants me to do this. I tried to get out of it. I said, ‘ you can get a young guy in his 20s to sing this,’ but they wanted me.”
The 57-year-old credits his love for music and 30 years in show business mainly to two people: his music teacher at Stokes Elementary School, Doug Moreland and musician and fellow Levittowner Eddie Money.
“One day during chorus, I must have been maybe 7 years old and we didn’t hold the last note on a Christmas song we were rehearsing. Mr. Moreland said ‘when you hold a note you never give up on it, you hold it till your eyes pop out!’ Well he didn’t know I would become a singer, but I kept that in my heart and mind during every performance for over 30 years,” Seminario says.
Of Eddie Money, he and Seminario both had bands at Island Trees High School and Seminario looked up to Money’s band, The Grapes of Wrath.
“The first time I saw Eddie, was Levittown Hall in 1966 at a benefit for Vietnam vets,” Seminario says. “The Stones were out and everyone had a band. Eddie had The Grapes of Wrath, when I saw him come out I knew I wanted to be a singer. He inspired me to be a singer. He’s had his share of difficulties but he’s a good human being.”
Lewis, LeTourneau and Seminario are three strangers who live in different states and have never met one another in person but have in common their love for American veterans and a desire to offer something of worth to those veterans. Whether its tangible necessities, as Lewis provides, an inspirational song that Seminario contributes or a festival of celebration and thanks that LeTourneau has put together, the three paths have crossed for a reason.
Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= SUVsAqmQHOM to watch Pat Seminario’s song Freedom’s Cry.
Visit http://salutethearmedforces.org/ for more information on the “Salute the Armed Forces Festival” in August or to make a donation.
Visit http://mom4rmarines.org/ to learn about Patty Lewis’ project in getting much-needed supplies to troops in Afghanistan.
Visit http://home.napster.com/#ns/ view/artist/?artist_id=13161119&clickSource=list_view_artist to download Freedom’s Cry from Napster.com.
Visit http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ freedoms-cry/id381201203?i= 381201227&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 to download Freedom’s Cry from iTunes.com.