In the morning, Udo Maroscher woke up in his Columbus, Ohio, home. As he does every day, he looked on his wall at all the medals, including the Silver Star, that were awarded to his brother, who was killed in Vietnam in 1968.

In the evening, Maroscher, a retired Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade, will sing the National Anthem to open the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families Tour at a community event in the very city he calls home. As a Wednesday evening rehearsal underscored beyond any doubt, Maroscher belts out the Star-Spangled Banner with even more authority than most, perhaps because he understands, through his honorable service and his brother’s ultimate sacrifice, what those precious lyrics mean.

“I try to sing our national anthem the right way,” Maroscher, 73, told the USO. “I fly my flag every day, and I’m so proud to be living here. Singing is the least that I can do.”

Maroscher, an ethnic German born in the famous Romanian province of Transylvania, recalled leaving his hometown “on a horse-drawn wagon through The Alps” to escape the Soviet Union’s iron fist. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1956, and like his brother, went on to graduate from Ohio State University and serve in the U.S. military. For his family, patriotism just comes naturally.

“I’m very supportive of military families,” Maroscher said. “As a naturalized citizen, I hope my patriotism shows.”

In January 1968, the Maroschers got news that all military families dread. While all they knew at first was that Maj. Albert Maroscher had been killed in action in a Saigon suburb, Udo and his family later learned the full scope of Albert’s heroism in Vietnam.

“With complete disregard for his personal safety, Major Maroscher moved through the hail of hostile fire along the street and deployed the personnel of the command group into covered positions from which they could place maximum effective fire on the insurgents,” the Silver Star medal citation reads. “The courageous leadership and the brilliant tactical knowledge displayed by Major Maroscher during the extremely perilous situation were greatly instrumental in limiting American casualties, and were a major factor in the successful outcome of the encounter.”

While the valor Albert displayed in the Army made Udo enormously proud, especially as he served in the Navy, his death was a crushing blow to the Maroscher family.

“It just about killed my mom,” Udo painfully recalled.

The vast majority of military families filling the the audience at Thursday afternoon’s Sesame Street-USO event, which will include appearances by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, have thankfully not experienced the death of a loved one overseas. Yet many of these families have dealt with the stress of multiple deployments and frequent moves around the country and the world. While Thursday’s fun-filled Columbus event will also include special performances by Sesame Street characters and Nick Jonas, Maroscher hopes his Star-Spangled Banner will start it off on the right note, especially for all the kids in the audience.

“I’ve been singing since high school,” he said. “I’m just fortunate to have a God-given gift that I can share with others.”

When he gets back to his house tonight, Udo Maroscher will have played a part in Sesame Street and the USO’s efforts to lift the spirits of American service members and their families. And when he looks on his wall before going to bed, his brother’s Silver Star will be shining brighter than ever.

Come back today at 5:15 PM to see the USO live blog from the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families Tour!