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Chorale gives last Memorial Day concert

May 27, 2007|By PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN-More than 800 people filled The Maryland Theatre Saturday night for the St. Patrick's Chorale's final Memorial Day performance.

John H.M. Stull, president of the chorale, announced to a disappointed crowd Saturday that "Father Time" had taken its toll and the group, which just celebrated its 10-year anniversary, would make Saturday night its last Memorial Day tribute.

Stull also said a planned Dec. 9 Christmas performance at Christ Reformed Church in Hagerstown will be the group's last holiday performance.

"All of our concerts have been a labor of love," he said. "Thank you for your support over the years."

The community choral group sang a collection of songs, presented as "The Home of the Brave," which was accompanied by a narrative of the country's history, told by Thomas B. Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Local leaders and elected officials, including Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey II and Maryland Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, dressed as founding fathers and had speaking parts during the concert.

Juliet and Ronald Long usually attend a family picnic the Saturday before Memorial Day, but Juliet's sister was performing at the theater and the couple decided to show their support.

Nancy Gehr, 80, whose late husband, Charles Gehr, served in the U.S. Navy, said she has attended the choral group's Memorial Day performances since they began putting on the shows.

She said she gets a little emotional, "particularly when they play 'Anchors Away.'"

Gehr attended the concert with her son, Rod Gehr, 59, both of Hagerstown.

Dwight Monnier, 60, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, and his wife, Shirley, 50, both of Hagerstown, said they have attended the group's Memorial Day concerts for about five years.

"I think back to my service days," Monnier said. "I'm thankful for all the things the guys before me did. We would not be the country we are today without our vets."

Monnier said he also thinks of his fallen comrades while listening to the music as a "way to say thank you to them and let them know I appreciate and respect what they did."

Shirley Monnier added that she also thinks about those who currently are serving the country.

Dwight Monnier was the first person to stand with his hand on his heart when the Fort Detrick Post Color Guard Team marched to the stage.

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