Who is John Pylman? WWII vet wins hearts for his national anthem performance in viral video

John Pylman said that singing the national anthem was not about giving a performance or showing off one’s vocal talent


                            Who is John Pylman? WWII vet wins hearts for his national anthem performance in viral video
John Pylman won hearts by singing the National Anthem (Facebook/West Michigan Whitecaps)

At a Minor League Baseball game in Michigan, a veteran sang the national anthem. The video of this performance on August 5 was shared by the official Facebook page of the West Michigan Whitecaps, a Minor League Baseball team of the High-A Central and the High-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, located in Comstock Park, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids. And the video has since gone viral. At the time of writing this, the video had more than 3.4 million views. 

The World War II veteran was 96-year-old John Pylman. Speaking with MLIve.com, Pylman said that singing the national anthem was not about giving a performance or showing off one’s vocal talent but respecting and honoring the United States of America, the country he fought hard for. “To me, it means the United States of America, worth fighting for,” the 96-year-old said. “God’s blessed us with this wonderful country, let’s take care of it. It’s worth fighting for.”

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Comments on the video were overwhelmingly positive. “Thank you for your services. And thank you for singing our American Anthem,” said one person. “The song was Absolutely Beautiful. Thank you once again,” said another person. One comment read, “my heart just swelled up and tears to my eyes.. That was amazing.. Thank you sir for your service.” Another said, “I am moved to tears by the pride shared by our serviceman' s performance. Thank you sir for your service to and love of our country.”

Pylman said he was blown away by the reaction to his performance and that it made his day. “I can’t believe it,” he said. “That’s my attitude right now — I just can’t believe it. I was amazed at the crowd’s reaction, and I thought, okay, this is a good thing to have done.”

As per reports, a Grand Rapids resident, Pylman enlisted in the Air Force in 1943, a year after he graduated from high school. He was a navigator on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress plane as part of the Eighth Air Force in England. After serving, Pylman got into the then-Calvin College (now Calvin University) where he studied education and became the very first principal at Rogers High School in Wyoming, where he served from 1957 to 1980.

As per MLive.com, Plyman, who previously sang with the Schubert Male Chorus in Grand Rapids, has sung at eight previous Whitecaps games at LMCU Ballpark. He first auditioned for the role a few years ago after seeing someone sing the national anthem at a Whitecaps game and thinking, “Hey, I could do that,” he said. “I just like to sing. And I’m pretty good at it.”

“I had some dear friends who didn’t survive World War II — five of them in my ninth-grade class,” he said. “We’ve got a wonderful country. It’s worth fighting for.”

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