Students Offer Serenade for Army Private Escorting Soldier's Remains Off a Plane

The students sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic" for the Army private.

July 27, 2016, 2:57 PM

— -- Diane Cupp was not originally scheduled to be on a flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta on July 18, but she’s glad she was.

It was on that flight that Cupp observed a group of high school students from the Iowa Ambassadors of Music serenade a full plane as a uniformed Army private escorted the remains of a World War II soldier home to Houston.

“Glory, glory hallelujah,” sang the group in the one-minute excerpt of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” that Cupp caught on video. The students were part of a group of 350 musicians from across Iowa returning home from a three-week tour in Europe.

The group started singing after the plane landed, when the pilot announced the private would be exiting the plane first.

“It melted my heart,” said Cupp, a resident of Johnson City, Tennessee, who quickly took out her phone to capture the moment. “I was so proud of them for doing that. It was so heartfelt.”

Evidently, many others feel the same way. The video had over 115,000 views as of this morning.

Kennedy Eitmann, a high school student in Treynor, Iowa, was one of the members of the Iowa Ambassadors of Music on that plane. After the students finished singing, they realized what a powerful moment it was and hoped someone had recorded it, Eitmann said. But to come across it in a viral Facebook video almost a week later was "surreal," she said.

"From then on we just kept looking back at the video and were amazed at how fast it was spreading. I definitely didn't think it would reach that many people," Eitmann said.

Cupp has since become friends with many of the students and their parents on Facebook. “The students thanked me for posting and said they were glad to be able to do that, and I just said it was an honor for me that you did do that,” Cupp said.

Looking ahead, Cupp said she hopes she can make a trip to see the students perform again. "I would love to go to Iowa and watch some of them --and their director -- I would love to talk to him," she said.

“I just want people to share it and see the patriotism of these young people. I was blessed because I was on this flight for a reason. That wasn’t supposed to be my flight,” Cupp said.