Veterans, I would send you a song if I could

Posted in Duff 'n Stuff, Music

Duff ’n Stuff, Nov. 13, 2012

One million, three hundred and twenty-six thousand, six hundred and twelve.


That’s how many U.S. troops have been lost in wars.

On Veteran’s Day, what other thought could be more appropriate than one of peace, or the thought that whatever beautiful thing you were doing on November 11, you could pay forward to those who have served.

Jazz pianist Randy Halberstadt and vocalist Gail Pettis perform at 88 Keys Piano Studio and Performance Space in Langley. (WLM photo)

The evening before Veteran’s Day this year, I was lucky enough to be listening to two fine jazz musicians perform here on the island. Listening to music from the great American songbook, I thought how great it would be if I could somehow beam the sound of Randy Halberstadt’s luscious piano and Gail Pettis’ gorgeous, silky voice out to every member of the United States Armed Forces, to every American veteran who served, to every mother and father, son or daughter, who lost someone in a war.

I would beam Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.”

Night and day, why is it so
That this longin’ for you follows wherever I go?
In the roarin’ traffic’s boom
In the silence of my lonely room
I think of you day and night

Officially, all around these United States, Veteran’s Day is meant to be a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and their willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. When I see a member of the armed forces or a veteran, I think how grateful I am to that person for their service. But then I make a silent wish that there would be no need ever to send them to war. But that’s just a dream some of us had.

I wish that I could send veterans messages like this one from “I Thought About You,” composed by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, that Pettis sang so delicately:

I took a trip on a train and I thought about you.
I passed a shadowy lane and I thought about you.
Two or three cars parked under the stars a winding stream.
Moon shining down on some little town
And with each beam the same old dream.

World War I, “The Great War,” officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the French town of the same name. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied Nations and Germany went into effect at 11 p.m. on November 11, 1918. It would have been nice if it had turned out to be “the war to end all wars,” but those of us looking back from our perch here in the 21st century know that dream never came true.

When Halberstadt filled the intimate 88 Keys Piano Studio and Performance Space in Langley with his instrumental version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “This Nearly Was Mine” from the musical South Pacific, the entire venue was enveloped by the sound of that grand piano and Halberstadt’s subtle, soulful touch. He was playing one of the most touching melodies ever written and his fingers dripped with elegance as he did it.  It was my wish that all 1,326,612 dead servicemen and women, and all those missing-in-action, wounded and still suffering from their time served in a war, somehow heard it too.

Here are those who died in just 10 of the 70 wars fought in by Americans.  This is how they appear forever and always, on a list or engraved on stone.

American Civil War (1861–1865) 625,000 Americans lost.

World War II (1941–1945) 405,399 Americans lost.

World War I (1917–1918) 116,516 Americans lost

Vietnam War (1955–1975) 58,209 Americans lost

Korean War (1950–1953) 36,516 Americans lost

American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) 25,000 Americans lost

War of 1812 (1812–1815) 20,000 Americans lost

Mexican–American War (1846–1848) 13,283 Americans lost

War on Terror (2001–present) 6,280 Americans lost

Philippine–American War (1899–1913) 4,196 Americans lost


Dear Veterans, I thought about you and still do.


From the heart,
Patricia Duff


Upcoming concerts at 88 Keys:

Thanks to Maureen Girard, owner of 88 Keys Piano Studio and Performance Space, the intimate house concerts continue with a special Valentine’s Day Concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 with Seattle vocalist Sue Bell, with Chris Morton on piano. Concert tickets are $25 by reservation only at 360-221-0362. Visit Girard’s website to find out more.


Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist whose most recent kudos include several awards in the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association 2011 competition.

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