WATCH: 96-Year-Old WWII Veteran Sings National Anthem at Michigan Baseball Game

by Jennifer Shea

A 96-year-old World War II veteran kicked off a Minor League Baseball game in Michigan with his rendition of the national anthem.

John Pylman sang “The Star Spangled Banner” before the Aug. 5 home game of the West Michigan Whitecaps. By this morning, the video of Pylman’s performance had been viewed more than 3.3 million times on Facebook, per Fox News.

The veteran’s sincere rendition of the anthem moved many viewers, who commented on how it “comes from his heart” and how Pylman “understands the true meaning of our flag.”

“To me, it means the United States of America, worth fighting for,” Pylman told MLive this week. “God’s blessed us with this wonderful country, let’s take care of it. It’s worth fighting for.”

Watch Pylman sing the national anthem here:

Veteran Tickled by Video’s Reception

Pylman was not expecting for the video of his performance to go viral on the Internet. But he says it “made [his] day” when he learned that millions had watched his singing.

“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.”

Pylman, who has lived in Grand Rapids for much of his life, has sung with the Schubert Male Chorus in Grand Rapids. But he is not a professional singer. He simply enjoys singing.

The WWII veteran joined the Air Force in 1943 after graduating high school. He flew on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress plane with the Eighth Air Force in Britain during the war. After his service ended, Pylman became a high school principal.

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

Pylman Has Sung the National Anthem Before

Pylman got the idea to sing the national anthem at a ballgame after attending a Whitecaps game and watching someone else perform it live. He thought, “Hey, I could do that,” the veteran said.

So a few years back, Pylman auditioned to sing the anthem before games. He wound up performing his version of the anthem at eight Whitecaps games in LMCU Ballpark before his fateful ninth performance was recorded and went viral.

“I just like to sing,” he said. “And I’m pretty good at it.”