Proud to have fun with singing group that hon­ors our veter­ans

The Enterprise - - Community Forum -

On Dec. 7, 1941, the day that the Japanese bombed Pearl Har­bor, I was 8 months old, and my par­ents’ rec­ol­lec­tions of what tran­spired on that day are part of our fam­ily’s his­tory. I am sure many oth­ers have mem­o­ries of where they were or what they were do­ing on that day. It is im­por­tant that we do not for­get what oc­curred and that we con­tinue to honor those sol­diers who sac­ri­ficed their lives and also all the oth­ers who served Amer­ica so that we would be able to en­joy the in­cred­i­ble gift of free­dom.

World War I veter­ans are now a part of the past and World War II veter­ans are con­tin­u­ally pass­ing on to their maker. The few WWII veter­ans who are left are all in their 90s, and soon enough they will be all gone. Time marches on and the last of the Korean and Viet­nam veter­ans will in the near fu­ture have taps played for the last time. They all de­serve our re­spect, so let us not for­get any of them.

Over 10 years ago, I re­tired and dur­ing that time, to the dis­may of some I de­vel­oped a pen­chant for writ­ing and singing. I will never re­ceive a Pulitzer Prize, nor will I sing in any opera house. How­ever, I en­joy each of th­ese en­deav­ors im­mensely.

For al­most a decade I have sung with the Har­mony Her­itage Singers, com­posed mostly of re­tired men, of whom many are veter­ans. Cur­rently, we have two WWII Marines who sing with our group. One of the many good things about this group is that all of the re­hearsals are in the day­time and al­most all of their 20-plus con­certs a year are day­time af­fairs. On Veter­ans Day each year, we have a con­cert at Mount Ver­non, where many pa­tri­otic veter­ans show up each year to cel­e­brate this day of re­mem­brance. Many of our other con­certs are at churches, schools and many re­tire­ment homes. I con­sider my singing as a gift and it is a giv­ing as well as a re­ceiv­ing en­joy­ment to me th­ese past years. Let me ex­plain why:

At the open­ing of many of our con­certs, we start our pro­gram by singing our na­tional an­them, where I have been wit­ness to an old vet­eran in a wheel­chair salut­ing our flag. At this special time I am giv­ing as well as re­ceiv­ing this pre­cious gift of pa­tri­o­tism. At re­tire­ment homes, we sing the armed forces med­ley and we ask that the re­tirees stand up when their ser­vice song is sung. Wid­ows and wid­ow­ers stand with the as­sis­tance of their canes and proudly sing along with us. Again, I am hon­ored and very proud. Af­ter all, who wouldn’t be?

I would be re­miss if I didn’t in­clude many of the other songs in our show pack­age. So here goes: “Amaz­ing Grace,” “Bar­bara Ann,” “Delta Dawn,” “Fun in Just One Life­time,” “Down by the River­side,” “Take Me Home Coun­try Roads,” “Mandy,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and many other songs. If you haven’t sung for a while, that’s fine and you’ll have fun while you learn, right along with the rest of us. We re­hearse, usu­ally sit­ting down, the sec­ond and fourth Tues­day of ev­ery month at 10 a.m. at Sher­wood Hall Re­gional Li­brary in Alexan­dria, Va. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit our web­site: http://; or con­tact Ernie Doyle, vice pres­i­dent of mem­ber­ship, at dunks5@ver­i­ or 240-508-7761.

Fi­nally, our group con­tains about 40 ac­tive mem­bers aged 65 to 92 and we would like to re­cruit some of you 65-year-olds to sing along with us oldies. If you live in South­ern Mary­land and would like to join us in song but are un­able to drive, we can in some cases pro­vide you with trans­porta­tion. Please ask Ernie. Who knows? You prob­a­bly will be seated next to one of our two spunky 92-year-old Marines who may be able to show you a thing or two.

John Pe­tralia, Sun­der­land

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