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Scouts send message of love to soldiers through song

Emotional recording session tugs on heartstrings

Dec. 21, 2006

BAY VIEW - U.S. soldiers serving away from home this holiday season will soon be getting a special greeting from Bay View.

Brownies and Junior Girl Scouts from Dover Street School, 619 E. Dover St., gathered Dec. 17 to record a musical holiday card to men and women they have never met, but are remembering with gratitude as they trim their trees and bake cookies this year.

Scout leader Stella Everson gets her troop fired up to sing for soldiers overseas. From left are: Jazmyn Arce, Brianne Rehak, Justice Nesbitt (top), Deangela Roglin, Katie Everson, TracyNatasha Blalock-Franklin and Indiyah Blalock-Franklin. The girls are from Dover School in Bay View. NOW Photo by Charles Auer

Scout leader Stella Everson of Bay View said students in quite a few classes at Dover Street School, as well as local residents, videotaped personal messages to American servicemen and women at the school's holiday concert Dec. 13. Their sentiments are being compiled onto a DVD to be distributed to troops serving overseas.

The project took its cue from the country song "I'm Already There" by Lonestar, a heart-wrenching tune that features recorded messages from families of men and women serving with the military in the Middle East.

Everson said the girls all decided they wanted to sing along with the Lonestar CD to let the troops know their sacrifices are appreciated.

Preparing for their debut

So last Saturday morning, the girls and their families took a break from the season's hustle and bustle and assembled in a meeting room at the Girl Scouts of Milwaukee headquarters, 131 S. 69th St. Many of the girls were in their prettiest holiday dresses, and some donned festive red Santa hats as they got ready to sing.

The girls have been memorizing and practicing the song for weeks. Tameka Blalock said her daughters, kindergartner Tracynatasha and Indiyah, 4, learned the song very quickly.

"We played the CD on the way to school every day," Blalock said.

Scout Justize Nesbitt said she doesn't have any family members or friends serving overseas at the moment, but her uncle once served in the military.

"He was a soldier a long time ago," Justize said.

Sitting in row waiting to sing, first-grader Jazmyn Arce and second-graders Jennette Zachow, Brianne Rehak and DeAngela Raglin talked about why they like being Scouts: the cookies. The girls said they really like selling them. Their favorites, for the record, are peanut butter patties and the new lemonade cookie.

It didn't take long, however, for the girls to remember why they were all dressed up on a Saturday morning.

"We're singing this one song to the soldiers," Brianne said.

Offering a blessing

Everson called the girls into a little huddle to remind them to stand up tall and proud and sing their best for the troops who will soon be watching the Dover School Scouts' homegrown DVD.

The DVD will open with the Dover Street School Troop 210 Cub Scout and Boy Scout Color Guard marching proudly into the room in their uniforms, with parents quietly placing their hands over their hearts as the American flag passes them by. The boys rehearsed the presentation of the colors twice before the official program started, making sure they had every move down pat.

Scout mom Rebecca Rehak, serving as a chaplain's aide for the ceremony, offered an opening prayer.

"Please keep our troops song and safe," she prayed. "And may our troops never forget how much they are loved, adored and looked up to."

Somebody hit "play" on a boom box, and the girls, standing in two straight rows with Everson at their side, began to sing along with Lonestar in strong, sweet voices.

Remembering soldiers

The voices of family members of soldiers on the Lonestar CD came through loud and clear. "Daddy?" said one. A woman's voice said, "I dreamed about him last night. I rolled over in bed and I was so excited to tell him and he wasn't there."

Another woman's voice: "Our daughter sleeps in his shirt ... He's going to have a hard time getting it back when he gets home."

And another: "He's my hero. He's always been my hero."

Another: "My husband's in the military. A lot of our neighbors are gone right now."

As she listened, Rebecca Rehak's eyes were brimming with tears.

"Just hearing the voices on the recording, the reality just kind of smacked my heart," she said later. "I'm a mom and a wife and I know what it's like to have my husband gone for just a week at a time. I admire the families here back home who are doing that every day."

Soon, the voices of students at Dover Street School and those who recorded greetings at the school's holiday concert will be added to the messages heard on the Lonestar recording.

And at the end of the DVD, the troops will get this closing message from the Dover Scouts, delivered in unison: "Us Brownies hope all of the soldiers come home from wherever they are safe and sound."

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