Don Miller’s lasting tribute to the military is the result of service he narrowly missed out on. Miller was growing up in southwestern Ohio when the Vietnam War started. He expected to be drafted and was prepared to serve his country but was never selected. “I felt guilty. I wanted to make some sort of contribution because I wasn’t called,” said Miller.
He would go to college, earn multiple degrees and become a Music professor at Onondaga Community College in 1971. OCC had just moved to its new campus on Onondaga Hill and initially, the Music department was located in the Service & Maintenance Building. That’s where Miller would begin his 30-year career teaching students Chorus, Music History, Music Appreciation and Classical & Jazz Guitar.
Despite his professional success, the feeling of guilt never left him. Two decades after not being drafted, Miller created his own way of contributing. In 1986 he composed “Here Rests In Honored Glory,” a song based on the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Miller used two hymn tunes within his composition, “All Glory Laud and Honor” along with “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” as a tribute to multiple religions. “The Unknown Soldier is representative of all religions or persons of no religious belief,” he said. “An unknown soldier can be a non-believer, a Muslim or whichever religion he or she observes.”
In the more than three decades since Miller composed the song it has been gaining prominence in and around the military community. Here Rests In Honored Glory was adopted as the Official Hymn of Mourning by two organizations; the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America. All of Miller’s composer royalties were split evenly between the two organizations. He has not and will not profit from the song.
In 2006 the work was recorded by the North Carolina Master Chorale in Raleigh as a CD. You can listen to it here. All proceeds from the sales went to raise money for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS is a national non-profit organization made up of, and providing services to all those who have lost a loved one on active duty with the Armed Forces.
In 2009 Miller’s composition won the George Washington Medal of Honor from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. The Watauga County Community Band and choral group in Boone, NC will perform the arrangement this fall for the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice. At the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy in France, the CD is played each June 6th in commemoration of D-Day which was the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe.
During the 2018 legislative session, the New York State Assembly and Senate both approved designating Miller’s song as the Official State Hymn of Remembrance in Honor of All American Veterans. Its passage was spearheaded by Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli and Senator John DeFrancisco. The bill now waits for the signature of Governor Andrew Cuomo. “I thank our lawmakers for everything they’ve done,” said Miller. “If it helps our Veterans and recognizes Veterans and their families, it is wonderful.”
Most rewarding for Miller and his wife Mary are the stories they have heard from those impacted by the song. “Through TAPS we got to know a lot of families. One of our friends from their lost their son 14 years ago. They listen to the song regularly and it brings them relief,” said Mary Miller. “We know a family that plays the song at the grave of their loved one in Arlington,” added Don Miller. “It comforts them. It’s how they celebrate.”
Recently the Miller’s were contacted by leaders of the United States Army Band in Washington DC, informing them the band is considering performing Here Rests In Honored Glory. It’s another level of recognition which would expose the song to a larger audience. “All of this is very humbling. I’m so grateful and want to thank those who gave the ultimate for their country,” said Don Miller.
- Here Rests In Honored Glory is published by Mark Foster Music, a division of Shawnee Press, Inc. and exclusively distributed by Hal Leonard Corporation.
- The Miller’s wish to thank OCC’s Susan Tormey, Music Professor Dr. David Rudari and OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill for their continued assistance and support.
- OCC would like to thank Donald Miller for his 31 years of service to the College. He and his wife Mary raised five children. Three of them along with a son-in-law are all Veterans.