Proud to have fun with singing group that honors our veterans
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:// hhsingers.org; or contact Ernie Doyle, vice president of membership, at email@example.com 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