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Everson's Anthem

The story behind a unique rendition of the Star Spangled Banner

by Kara Freedman / FloridaPanthers.com Contributor

You won't find a more unique performance of the Star Spangled banner than Joe Everson's.

Clad in a Florida Panthers home jersey, Everson made his NHL debut by performing his signature 'Project Benny' piece at the BB&T Center last week.

With his back to the majority of the audience for most of the performance, Everson sings the Star Spangled banner while he applies paint to a canvas that's turned upside down. As the crescendos mount and the music swells, Everson speckles red paint on the bottom of his canvas with two brushes, flapping his implements like wings. 

When the song reaches its conclusion, Everson flips his canvas and reveals the famous silhouette of American soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima during World War II. And as Everson hits and holds the high "e" on "land of the free", he runs a paint roller over that iconic image so as to create the American flag - a fitting final touch on his singular, patriotic display. 

Everson's 'Project Benny' is an original visual and aural rendition of the Star Spangled banner. It may seem unusual, but his debut at the BB&T center was a perfect fit - even if Everson, a native of Midland, Mich., grew up a diehard Detroit Red Wings fan. 

Like Everson, the Panthers have a penchant for the armed forces - as evidenced by their Heroes Among Us program and the teams many trips to West Point - so Panthers president and CEO Matt Caldwell saw it as a natural fit. His hunch was dead on. 

Video: 12/28/16 National Anthem Performance

The story behind Everson's performance and his passion for his country and the armed forces is rooted in his family's American experience.

Everson's cousin, Benito Diaz, gave his life for his country in the Vietnam War, and in turn received a Purple Heart and Silver Star for his service. Everson recalls attending the ceremony as a young boy, and holding the flag during his cousin's burial.

Everson believes that the memory of his cousin - and all others who have sacrificed their safety and lives to protect our country - can be honored through Project Benny. He says the powerful image helps keep the focus on the meaning of the song, while visually alluding to the words that Joe belts out.

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