Stirring up memories
Marine Hymns in Iraq
December 8, 2005
won’t deck the halls with boughs of holly with his family in Rhode Island this
December 25. He won’t
journey west to go caroling with his parents and brother and sister in Amarillo, Texas either.
will be in Baghdad
where he serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Marines.
Jon is, though, we know he will be singing and bringing joy. Jon, after all was born into a
“singing family active in a singing church,” according to his dad,
Gene Shelburne. Gene’s been
pastor of the Anna Street Church
in Amarillo for
the past 36 years.
who after many years in the Marines, has been teaching at the law school at Roger Williams
University was called
back into active service last spring.
Once he was in Baghdad,
the Marines in his unit got to singing one night. They did it mostly just to make
themselves feel better and to take their minds off the grim circumstances
liked what they heard and decided to put together a male choral number for the
next Sunday’s service at the base chapel. That Sunday and the Sundays that
followed. They soon became an
integral part of the services.
member of the unit is a professional choir director. He got busy and sent home for music and
started rehearsing the group.
All they needed now was a name, and they found the perfect one. This group of Marines is now known as
the Hard Corps Chorale!
If you want to be inspired, then visit them at one of these two websites:
if you don’t have Internet access, try hard to find someone who
does. Everyone should get to share
this experience! Not only will you
hear the Hard Corps Chorale sing, but you will see some fascinating pictures of
Iraq, American service people and the inside of one of Saddam’s palaces!
aren’t professional recordings, they are recordings made with personal
recorders. Chorale members made them on their own to send home to friends and
family. Some of the cuts are the
practice sessions—all this makes the music even more special and
moving. I’ve played through
both many times. I still get tears
in my eyes as I listen.
did I here in Southwest Georgia find out about
these interesting men? My high
school friend Linda Clayton Hicks who lives near Boston sent me an e-mail with these
links. I immediately e-mailed Gene
Shelburne, Jon’s dad, who is another high school buddy, asking him to
fill me in and tell me more about Jon and the Hard Corps.
his dad, Jon grew up in Amarillo and attended Amarillo High School. While he was there he was quite a
sportsman, playing on a state championship baseball team and captaining the
basketball team. But he was also
president of the school choral group, the Bel Canto Chorale.
went off to the University
of Dallas. When he finished there, he taught high
school in nearby Irving
for three years. Then it was law
school at Texas Tech and into the
Marines. Jon and his family have lived all over the world as he pursued his
they reached his assignment in Newport,
Rhode Island, they liked it
there, decided to settle down, and Jon accepted the position at Roger
Williams. After just about two
years, Uncle Sam intervened, and now—you know the rest of the story.
Gene says they don’t know when to expect him home, but meanwhile they help
to keep up his spirits (and energy level) by sending him “a hefty box of
goodies at least every month.
Postage is expensive, and food tends to be heavy, but that doesn’t
slow down the lady I live with.”
Gene goes on to tell about friends who own a Schlotzky’s store who
donated 10 dozen premium cookies to the last shipment. “Jon said the guys in his unit
cleaned up those cookies like the locusts in the plagues of Egypt.”
you visit the Hard Corps Chorale via the Internet and want to send a message to
Jon and the other men, drop me a line or an e-mail, and I’ll make sure it
gets to his dad who will pass it along.
the Shelburnes aren’t the only ones sending off packages. Here in Bainbridge folks are concerned
about those who are serving in Iraq
and elsewhere. Out at Bainbridge College, the student community volunteer
club, BC Cares, sponsored by Professor Jennifer Hobgood, has collected a
variety of goods to fill holiday care packages for enlisted men and women from
our area who serve in the armed forces overseas. Some of the packages are already on
their way, but if you know of any service people who would like to receive a
message and remembrance from home, please let me know and I’ll get the
names to Jennifer.
makes our own holidays more joyful when we remember these folks who are far
away at this special time.
you Jennifer, and Gene for all your caring actions.. Especially, thanks to Jon
and his comrades.
If you’re wondering about the web address, the Amarillo
High School’s teams are known as
The Golden Sandstorm—you can guess what the weather is like on the high
plains of Texas. Anyone who has attended the school is a
Golden Sandie—like Gene and Jon and me. Once a Sandie, always a Sandie!
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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network