Face of Defense: Marine Uses Voice to Unify Deployed Troops
By Marine Corps Cpl. Katherine M. Solano
2nd Marine Logistics Group
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, Oct. 3, 2011 Originally from Kingstown, Jamaica, Marine Corps Master Sgt. Mark A. Kennedy has been surrounded by musical talent since he was born. His grandfather and uncles played instruments with local musicians, and his mother and brother are natural-born singers.
Marine Corps Master Sgt. Mark Kennedy sings the national anthem during a 9/11 memorial ceremony at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, 2011. Kennedy comes from a long line of musicians in Jamaica and has been singing since he was a boy. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mitch Moore
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Marine calls his own singing abilities his “God-given talent.” Kennedy, who enlisted out of Pontiac, Mich., is deployed here as an administration chief with 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
Kennedy uses his talent to reach out to other deployed service members by singing at weekly services at the chapel here. Recently, his involvement with the chapel gave him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He was offered the chance to sing the national anthem at the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“Knowing there were so many people in the audience who had family members that died on 9/11 or who lost friends in Iraq and Afghanistan, I wanted to give everything to my performance,” Kennedy said. “To be standing there singing the national anthem, which so many people have given their lives for, made it so special for me.”
His talents have opened other doors for him as well. Stationed in Japan in 1996, Kennedy and some others went into a Japanese community and sang gospel music for the local people.
“It just kind of broke down the language barriers,” he said. “They couldn’t understand the words, but because of the music, they were very interested. They said they had never heard music like that before. It was phenomenal.”
It is this passion for reaching out and touching others that Kennedy said will be a constant in his life, even after he retires from the Marine Corps.
“I want to keep giving my gift back and inspiring others,” he said.