CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A group of West Virginians will be singing at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7 as part of Pearl Harbor Day commemorative events.
The group is Appalachian Children’s Chorus (ACC), which received an invitation to Hawaii by Retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant Earl T. Hurrey to participate in the 77th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“It’s a great opportunity to sing for Pearl Harbor,” Jenna Detemple, a choir member, said. “It’s something that you almost don’t hear of any more, kids getting invited to sing for something so big and monumental in our history.
“We are just sending our united front of kids and joy. We are sending what we bring to our community and what we bring to the United States in representing West Virginia.”
This is not the first major trip that the ACC has taken. Selina Midkiff, the Founding, and Artistic Director, and Concert Choir Director for the ACC said the group does “big” trips every two years or so.
Detemple, a South Charleston native, noted her fond memories of traveling to Italy in 2015 and performing at the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, and traveling to Canada to celebrate and perform at 150 Years of Ottawa.
“I told our kids one time that we were singing in Carnegie Hall was because of all the choristers that came before them that were willing to work this hard,” Midkiff said. “That is what this invitation is.”
The group held their final rehearsal on the campus of the University of Charleston Monday night. The choir got their last warm-ups of several of the songs that they will sing at the ceremony including God Bless America, The Star-Spangled Banner, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and a medley of the theme songs of the military branches.
“It’s going to be amazing,” Allison Jeffrey, a choir member, said. “It’s huge to be able to go and sing at huge events like this, especially ones that most people don’t have the opportunity to go and even see.”
The group of about 41 children, parents, and staff leave for Pittsburgh on Tuesday. From Pittsburgh, they take an early morning flight on Wednesday to Honolulu. The ACC said they are proud to be invited to this special ceremony as ambassadors of West Virginia.
“This choir is amazing,” Detemple said. “We have had tons and tons opportunities. This is a really great thing to be a part of. I’ve been in this since I was four years old and I don’t know what my life would be without ACC so it’s a really cool opportunity.”
In an email invitation to the ACC, M.Gy.Sgt. Hurrey said the events will include the official public ceremony for the Pearl Harbor Commemoration, the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade, and a very special musical salute concert in front of Mighty MO, the USS Missouri battleship moored in Pearl Harbor.
“I’m not sure our children really understand the price of freedom,” Midkiff said. “I am really hoping this will be a wonderful educational experience for them as well.”