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Letters to Soldiers Put to Music

Cathy Duchamp
06/19/2006

Itís something special these days to get a personal letter in the mail. It doesnít happen enough for many U.S. soldiers in Iraq. A group of fifth and sixth graders from Eastern Oregon set out to change that. They wrote letters to soldiers. Then they put the letters to music and produced a CD. Correspondent Cathy Duchamp has the story.

TRANSCRIPT

SIXTH GRADE TEACHER JIM KEYES SAYS HE DOESN'T PLAY THE PIANO. BUT HE MANAGED TO BANG OUT A FEW CHORDS FOR THE TITLE TRACK TO THE CD, LETTERS TO OUR HEROES.

CHORUS: "Itís the land of the free and the home of brave. Though your mighty far away our freedomís here to stay."

KEYES: "We just wanted them to know they are supported. And they may not have gotten a letter yesterday. But somebody here is thinking about them, and somebody here wants them to come home safe."

KEYES TURNED HIS CLASSROOM AT IRRIGON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL INTO A TEMPORARY RECORDING STUDIO. HE BOUGHT THE MICROPHONE AT A PAWN SHOP AND RAN IT INTO HIS LAPTOP TO PUT 22 LETTERS TO MUSIC.

KEYES: "I think what surprised me most was the earnestness of the kids, that at their age their able to just understand the plight of the soldiers and really put their hearts into this."

THE CD IS A MIXTURE OF SONGS AND RAPS. KEYES SAYS THAT HELPED BRING THE SHY KIDS INTO THE MIX.

KEYES: "Particularly the boys, they didnít want to be the singers the girls were to do that. But the rap really got them involved."

RAPPERS: "Have a hot dog on a bun. No more living like a nun. Tell someone jokes or make a pun. Youíre someoneís daughter. Know youíre someoneís son."

KEYES IS 50. THIS WAS HIS FIRST YEAR AS A TEACHER. HE RETIRED FROM THE ARMY IN 1983. KEYES SAYS THE CD HELPED HIM REMEMBER THOSE DAYS OF SERVICE.

KEYES: "It that was a good thing, just to remember what it was like. I wish when I was out there someday that I had received an album like that, someone had written me a letter like that. Whether I was in danger or not just the idea that somebody said you know what we havenít forgot about you. We know why youíre there and we care."

KEYES SAYS MOST OF ALL, THE KIDS LEARNED HOW A SMALL IDEA CAN SNOWBALL INTO SOMETHING BIG. HE'S NOW LOOKING FOR WAYS TO GET THE CD IN THE HANDS OF SOLDIERS ON THE GROUND IN IRAQ. I'M CATHY DUCHAMP REPORTING.

CHORUS: "You are our heros. You are our heros. You are our heros. Please come home soon."

© Copyright 2006, KUOW

09.25.18

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