The Air Force Memorial Poem was written by Lolete Barlow, the widow of Air Force Lt. Colonel John W. Barlow, buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Mrs. Barlow penned the poem after attending the Air Force Memorial Dedication Ceremony in October of 2006.
When asked why she wrote the poem Mrs. Barlow shared: “I was so excited about being at the ceremony. I was sitting in the Pentagon parking lot watching the dedication on a huge screen. As I looked at the spectators in attendance I noticed many elderly veterans in the crowd. Their faces were so joyful! Many of them were sitting with friends and comrades. I observed that some were stooped over- not as tall. Many now had gray or no hair, but all of them had that sparkle of excitement in their eyes. I wanted to capture their excitement and the meaning behind this beautiful new Air Force Memorial.”
I asked Mrs. Barlow if she would consider allowing her poem to be set to music. She instantly gave permission. I contacted Colonel Larry Lang, commander of The United States Air Force Band, who was excited about the opportunity to collaborate on this project. The band senior staff arranger, SMSgt Robert Thurston, then created an original composition titled “Upon This Hill” based on Mrs. Barlow’s poem.
Selecting just the right person to read the poem was the next hurtle. Since the poem was written by a woman, I felt the narrator should be a woman. I found the perfect voice in one phone call. I contacted Natalie Morales- news anchor on NBC’s “TODAY” and great supporter of the military and the United States Air Force. Ms. Morales was an Air Force “brat.” Her father Mario was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force. Natalie graciously said “yes” to doing the narration and did so gratis. When asked about her experience narrating the poem Ms. Morales said: “What an honor to be able to add a voice to the beautiful words of "Upon the Hill, " a tribute to the brave men and women of the US Air Force. Reading the poem triggered such emotion, thinking of my father's time serving and knowing how meaningful those years were to him and to our family. I know many Air Force families feel the same and will be honored hearing this poem that speaks so much to all that they have given.”
We hope you enjoy “Upon This Hill.”