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Heritage Singers honor World War II veterans

Submitted Photo The Heritage Singers of Minot are shown after their performance in the American Cemetery at Normandy, France. Photo from Chad Spokely.

The Heritage Singers of Minot recently traveled to France to perform.

The men’s choir visited various attractions and performed around the country, but the show member Craig Eraas spoke about most upon the group’s return was one that took place at the flagpole in the American Cemetery at Normandy, France, where those who fell during World War II are interred.

Eraas said due to construction during their performance at the cemetery, the group was unable to use its electric piano and had to perform a capella, or without music. He said being able to perform there was “incredibly moving.”

During their time in France, group members also visited Omaha Beach, the scene of the largest coastal invasion of modern times, shortly after the invasion’s 80th anniversary observance on June 6 and perused some of the displays there.

“It really brought to my reality the true magnitude of what this thing (the invasion) was, and what it must have been like,” Eraas explained in speaking about the visit to the beachhead. Growing up reading about the events that took place there, he said, the sight made him stand in awe.

Typically anniversaries are measured in 25-year increments, but Eraas said the 80th anniversary of the invasion was so important “because of the age of the veterans that were there at the time. You know, an 18-year-old kid back then is now 98 years old.

“The number of veterans who served during World War II are dwindling,” he said. “The greatest generation is passing rapidly on us.” Their actions ensuring Europe’s freedom from the Axis Powers should be honored, he said.

During the group’s adventures around the Normandy area they were able to experience French cuisine, visit museums and see local sites. The group performed at various cathedrals and churches, including Eglise St. Alpin, where they met with the Harmonia Chouer d’Homme men’s choir.

Eraas summed up the trip by saying the Heritage Singers were able to perform “in some phenomenal cathedrals, with some other phenomenal groups, and were able to experience some small bit of the French culture.”

Eraas said he wishes he was able to spend more time at the Normandy beachhead.

“There is so much to be seen in the museums, and the things that have been preserved. It was so moving, it was hard to describe,” he said.

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