The ceremonies will honor those who died in Normandy.
FREDERICK, Md. — The Choral Arts Society of Frederick (CASF), under the direction of Lynn Staininger, was selected by Historic Programs to represent the United States in D-Day commemorative ceremonies held in Normandy, France from June 3-7, 2023. Historic Programs is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring veterans and educating younger generations. CASF’s reputation within the community and professionalism within the field of music led to their selection for this honor.
The CASF choir, a cross-section of community members and students from Frederick Community College, will be joined by select members of the Hood College Choirs. They will accompany an elite group of American and European performers, consisting of music and military ensembles, in a tribute commemorating the 79th anniversary of D-Day.
“D-Day, to me, has always been a living history,” noted Lynn Staininger, CASF’s Artistic Director. Staininger, whose mother served as a nurse in World War II and whose father was a bombardier pilot during the war, is passionate about keeping the memory of the war veterans alive.
Emily Hill, a choir member and a Frederick County Public Schools music teacher, shares Staininger’s personal commitment to the cause. Hill’s great uncle, Bruce Lincoln Young, served in the U.S. Army’s 69th Infantry Division during the war, and her cousin, Allen Douglas Young, a U.S. Army technician, was killed in action in France. “Working with such fine musicians has truly been an honor, as is the opportunity to perform as part of this commemoration. I’m humbled and grateful to be able to honor those who served in D-Day through song,” shared Hill.
Jeff Fishman, a choir member and retired home inspector, didn’t realize how much he missed singing until he joined CASF after a 30-year hiatus from performing. The joy of choral singing has enriched his life immeasurably, and he will perform at the D-Day concerts in honor of his father, U.S. Army veteran Syd Fishman, who served in the European Theatre during World War II.
On June 3, CASF will participate in a D-Day memorial parade, held in Sainte-Mère-Église, which was the first town liberated by American paratroopers on D-Day. On June 4, CASF will perform at a tribute ceremony at the American Cemetery at Brittany, the final resting place of over 4,400 soldiers who lost their lives in World War II. On June 5, CASF will perform at a wreath-laying and commemoration ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery, which overlooks Omaha Beach. The choir will perform official ceremonial music and a special piece of music to honor all who perished on the beaches of Normandy. Additional concerts will be performed in Sainte-Mère-Église and Paris.
Recognizing the learning opportunities afforded by the experience, Staininger, who also directs the Hood College Choirs, invited students from the college choirs to participate in the trip. Approximately 15 Hood College choir members will lend their vocal talents to the D-Day commemorative events. “We are grateful to the Choral Arts Society of Frederick for inviting students from the Hood College Choir to be part of this summer’s D-Day ceremonies in Normandy, France. This is not only a great honor for Hood College, but also an exceptional once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity for our students. Hood’s core values of Hope, Opportunity, Obligation and Democracy are among the central tenets that over 150,000 allied forces fought for on D-Day. Being part of the ceremony honoring those who fought so valiantly defending these principles will be a powerful and transformative learning experience for our students,” said Debbie Ricker, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Hood College.
Ashlynn Stearns, a student and choir member at Hood College, can’t wait to honor the World War II veterans in her family next June. Stearns’ great-grandmother, Jean Pride Stearns, served as a sergeant and navigation instructor in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, and her great-grandfather, Stanley Stearns, served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a technical sergeant and a bombardier during the war. Her other great-grandfather, Charles Willard Thomas, fought for the U.S. Navy in PT Boat 507 off the shores of Normandy on D-Day, serving as a gunner’s mate, petty officer second class. “This D-Day opportunity means a lot to me, because this gives me a chance to feel closer than ever to my great-grandfather,” said Stearns.