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Barbershop concerts give veterans a stirring salute

May 06, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

Bill Diehl was already feeling sentimental during Saturday night's Mason-Dixon Barbershop Chorus concert when the chorus paid tribute to the veterans in the audience.

Even before Master of Ceremonies Mike Maino asked veterans to stand when they heard their military branch's anthem sung, Diehl had begun his own "Sentimental Journey."

Hearing the chorus sing "Don't Fence Me In" reminded Diehl, 75, of Greencastle, Pa., of when he was flown to England after being released as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II.

"That was the first song I heard," Diehl said. "It brings back a lot of memories."

Approximately 60 men and women stood during the Armed Forces Melody before intermission Saturday night at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater.

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The theater was almost packed with about 400 people after having a full house for the afternoon concert.

Air Force veteran Duffield Myers, 71, of Chambersburg, Pa., said he was impressed with the chorus' tribute to veterans and its show, "Seems Like Old Times."

"These people are so talented," said Myers, who played the saxophone, clarinet and oboe with the Air Force Band for 25 years.

June Sword, 72, of Hagerstown, said the concert was "thrilling and moving," especially the tribute to veterans.

"I just can't say enough about it," said Sword, who attended the concert with her husband, Army veteran Grover Sword.

Navy veteran Hugh Talton, 57, of Hagerstown, also enjoyed the tribute, but said he was surprised there weren't more veterans in the audience.

Like many of the concertgoers, Talton had friends in the chorus, whose concert featured a 1940s World War II theme.

During the first half of the more than two-hour concert, the theme of the selected songs followed a World War II soldier at a military canteen who got a "Dear John" letter and then met a new sweetheart.

"I'll Be Seeing You," "That Old Feeling," "Let's Get Away From It All" and "As Time Goes By" were among the featured songs.

David Wenerd, 44, of Chambersburg, said Saturday night's performance was the third time he'd seen the chorus, which includes members from his church's congregation.

"It's an amateur chorus, but these guys just put their heart out to it," Wenerd said.

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