Christopher Stoll is among dozens of musicians and singers who came together at the Zeta Recording Studio in Holland to re-record a musical tribute to America's military veterans.
The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
In 1985, a young Toledo musician named Mitch Gonzalez composed a musical tribute to veterans titled "This Song."
The song conveyed a message of gratitude and support for the thousands of veterans who met open hostility from the civilian population upon their returns from Vietnam.
Sunday, Mr. Gonzalez's longtime friend Bob Davenport and a cadre of local musicians convened at the Zeta Recording Studio in Holland to re-record the 25-year-old tribute.
"We wanted to update the song, and make it really dramatic, almost as if U2 came in to cut the track," Mr. Davenport said.
They plan to have a finished product ready for presentation at LZ Michigan, a conference to honor Vietnam War veterans that will be held Saturday in Grand Rapids, Mich.
As the recording wrapped up in the late afternoon, three of the veterans present in the studio began crying.
"It means the world to them, just to get acknowledged for the sacrifice they made," said Mr. Davenport.
The vocalists who took part in the recording were among the Toledo music scene's most exceptional singers, said Mr.
Davenport, whose cover band, Landslide, recorded the song's backing music.
Mr. Gonzalez's 1985 song, an anthem commemorating the veterans' sacrifices, was written in response to Vietnam veterans' prolonged struggle with the government to win essential services such as mental health counseling, as well as their more painful fight to overcome a largely anti-war population's antipathy.
"Back in the Vietnam era, veterans were treated very badly," said Mr. Davenport. "They didn't have any support the way the troops do now. We felt that that was wrong."
Monday, with more than 100,000 U.S. soldiers overseas, Mr. Davenport said that support for the troops is more commonplace, but the message of affirmation is still necessary.
"The guys in Iraq now still need the same support," he said. "People are dying over there. We just lost nine more the other day."
One of the vocalists recruited for the project was Laci Bloomfield, lead singer for the Toledo rock band Tranquil. Her father, a Vietnam veteran, died in September of cancer believed caused by exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant used by the United States military to strip the jungles of Vietnam.
"My dad would be absolutely elated for me to be a part of this," she said.
Ms. Bloomfield emphasized how easy it is to forget about veterans once war is over and the troops return home.
"I think a lot of people don't realize how war has a lasting effect," she said.
"Even after it's completely over with, it's not over. Thirty years after the war, my dad went through hell."
Ms. Bloomfield said her father struggled for years with post-traumatic stress disorder as well as the onset of diabetes, also blamed on Agent Orange. He ultimately died of bone cancer.
Over the years, Mr. Davenport has won the friendship of the Vietnam Veterans of America and, in particular, Chapter 35 in Toledo.
Many chapter members attended the recording, and several broke down in tears after they heard the track's final version.
Dick Nolte, the chapter's president, spoke of the increasing energy among veterans' associations thanks to civilian support from the likes of Mr. Davenport and his musician friends.
Among Vietnam veterans, he said, "there's a lot more white hair, but the enthusiasm is greater now than it was at any time past."
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