All Things Soldier: The Infectious Innocence Of In The Stairwell

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
In a week when we have had historical statues being pulled down, political races heating up, and North Korea rattling its saber, it’s refreshing to have this edition of All Things Soldier be relatively fluffy. In The Stairwell is an a capella all-guy singing group comprised of United States Air Force Academy Cadets. The unusual name of the group comes from an Academy tradition of relegating new cadets to gather in the Academy’s stairwell for social gatherings. Being “sent to the stairwell” is a combination of punishment, discipline, and a privileged spot, and clearly it has great acoustics. For years they have performed on and off the Academy campus, and slowly began to gain a reputation as a solid performing group.

Stairwell was first formed in 2004, and they have gone on to gain national notoriety through the Season 12 series broadcast of NBC’s America’s Got Talent. As of Wednesday night when we went to print, they had advanced to the semi-finals. I have been cheering them on all season, in part because I have become unexpectedly acquainted with the parents of one of the contestants.

While their vocal production is impeccable, one of the things that makes them so endearing is the awkwardness of their choreography. It is this combination of clumsiness and charm that I don’t think could be an act. It is just who they are, and America has gone wild over them. Another thing about them that has captured our hearts at least in the South is their unfettered patriotism. They absolutely love the prospect of potentially being in harm’s way in the service of their country. “We love America and we love to sing” couldn’t be more powerful or simple.

It makes me wonder, what if we joined them? What if we just decided that we were not afraid to love America, warts and all, and we were not afraid to sing in the shower or on the street? What if we chose to believe that for this great nation it is worth being in danger, and if our dance is a bit dumb, who really cares? At the end of the day, we could say that we danced, and no one stopped us.

For my part, it is my hope that In The Stairwell does well in the finals, though they are up against some stiff competition from a variety of other contestants. They have also been humble and genuinely sportsmanlike when dealing with winning. It is what I would expect from those who are being trained to be “officers and gentlemen,” and it is a joy to behold.

Lastly, the bond of pure loving unity that has been forged by In The Stairwell as a result of the years that they were having to hangout “in the stairwell” is powerful. These guys genuinely care about each other, and win or lose, I do believe that they will remain friends forever. They are of every color and background, with a common purpose that I hope becomes infectious.
By: Ali ElizabethTurner