I was never a big fan of Whitney Houston. Of course she had an amazing voice but I always found the act a bit too slick. But there was one unforgettable exception.
I was a bartender in Vieques -a little island off the coast of Puerto Rico, for 6 months in 1990. At the time two thirds of it was used as a military base for all kinds of training and maneuvers. On weekends the soldiers were allowed to come into Esperanza and many of them hit the bars to get royally blitzed. I got to know quite a few of them -they were kids 19 20-I think the oldest of them were no more than 25. They’d get zonked on Mind Erasers and get picked up by a transport vehicle that would take them back to the base. They were respectful,fun and I liked them a lot.
A year later I’m back in Vieques at the bar just after the outbreak of the Gulf War. I’d been told that a lot of the guys from the Vieques base were now there on the ground and I was thinking of them. The Super Bowl .was about to start and Miss Houston sang the National Anthem.
For those moments her voice touched the ears of God. For those moments every parent of an enlisted child sent their own soul to protect their loved ones. For those moments I thought of every one of the kids I’d met the year previous and prayed for their safe return.
In the midst of a massive production with jets flying overhead hers was the magnificent voice of humanity and it could not have been more perfect. I’ll remember her for that. She was never better.