The Invisible Bond Between Soldiers

"To fight for the we."

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Editor's Note: Vital Speeches asked speechwriter Leonoor Russell how she convinced her boss, the Netherlands Chief of Defense, to deliver this speech to a musical soundtrack. Play the video at bottom as you read Leonoor's story.

It wasn’t hard to get my speaker to do this at all.

About a year ago, I summoned the courage to ask him (on our way to a meeting, hurrying through a hallway): “I’d like to write a speech for you that is accompanied by music. I think I can get an orchestra together … what do you think?”

He nodded and said: "Work it out and get back to me."

In the Netherlands we have a big military tattoo show once a year. (Five shows with an audience of 3,000) This year was special because we’re celebrating 75 years of Dutch liberation and 200 years of military music.

So I knew that that show was my big chance. I contacted the conductor and we immediately decided on the music: it had to be slow and emotional. And it had to be about the bond between military men and women. Hence: Band of Brothers.

The conductor sent me a recording of the music and I started writing. The text had to fit the music. I listened to it over and over again and after a while the words just came to me. (Just like a songwriter, I guess.)

When I came back from leave I sent my speaker the text and a recording of me delivering the speech to music. 

We went over it and realised that it was still way too long.

A week later we had a rehearsal with the conductor. The orchestra wasn't available, so we used the recording and a teleprompter. We cropped the text yet another time.

The day before the performance, we finally had a chance to rehearse with the orchestra. (Two hundred musicians, so we needed a concert hall.) The rehearsal was horrible, but the the performance (with His Majesty King Willem-Alexander in the audience) was just perfect. I had tears in my eyes.

For me, it was a dream come true. I hope to do it again sometime. My inspiration came from the song "Iron Sky" from Paolo Nuttini. It has a clip of a Churchill speech that fits in beautifully with the music.

Talk about #lifegoals … how cool to have one your speeches immortalised in a song?

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