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A Call to Service

Click here to view photos of the service.

Muskingum University Special Chapel Service Brings the
Community Together for A Call to Service: A Remembrance

When President Franklin Roosevelt described December 7, 1941 as “a date that will live in infamy,” he knew that American history would be forever changed. With the eyes of the nation and the world upon him, what he could not have known was how that moment would reach the Village of New Concord, Ohio and the lives of a young John Glenn and the love of his life, Annie Castor Glenn.

President Susan HasselerTo mark that day, and those landmark changes, Muskingum University held a special chapel service on December 8, titled A Call to Service: A Remembrance. It brought the community together to reflect on the sea change that took place, at home in New Concord and around the world, in a blink of the eye of history.

For Annie Castor, then a student at Muskingum, December 7 was the day of her senior organ recital in Brown Chapel, representing a high point in her college career. But, as he traveled to Muskingum to hear her performance, John Glenn learned on his car radio that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor and that the United States was at war.

The young Glenn decided not to tell Annie about the attack until after the recital, but he recalled later that he immediately knew that the day would forever change both of their lives.

“Thank you all for joining with our Muskingum community as we celebrate John and Annie Glenn today,” said Muskingum University President Dr. Susan Hasseler. “In John’s words, ‘from Muskingum, you can go anywhere’ and we could not be more proud of, nor more grateful to, John and Annie Glenn, as we reflect on the journeys they took as they answered the call to service.”

Dr. Hasseler also thanked the founders of the John and Annie Glenn Museum -- Dr. Lorle Porter, professor emerita of history at Muskingum and 1962 alumnus Don McKendry, director emeritus of the Museum, for their work in preserving the roles of the Glenns in history.

ChoirOrgan music for the service was performed by Dixie Lee Hayes Heck, a 1964 alumna, and included selections played by Annie Glenn at her recital. The Muskingum University Chamber Singers led the hymnody, including a rendition of “This Is My Song,” set to Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, which was one of Annie Caster’s recital selections and one of Senator Glenn’s favorites. Music was coordinated by Dr. Zebulon Highben and Dr. David Turrill.

The opening prayer was given by Muskingum student Troy Gray ’16, a sergeant first class in the United States Army.

The event began with a biographical video titled Out of Silence: The Annie Glenn Story, which tells of Annie’s determination to overcome her speaking impairments. That video was written and narrated by Dr. Porter and produced at Muskingum’s broadcasting facilities.

Hal BurlingameConducted by Muskingum University Chaplain Reverend William E. Mullins ’02, the service included his homily, titled Be Still, My Soul. Read Rev. Mullins’ homily below.

Following the homily, Harold W. Burlingame ’62, alumnus and chair of the Muskingum University Board of Trustees, read the names of all Muskingum University alumni and students who perished in World War II. Each name was accompanied by a single bell peal and a moment of silence.

All of those who served in the war were remembered with a flag folding ceremony provided by the 911th Air Reserve Wing Honor Guard from Pittsburgh.

The closing prayer was given by Professor Emeritus of Religion and World War II veteran Reverend Dr. William McClelland.

The service concluded with the playing of Echoing Taps by Muskingum students Brandon Barnes ’20 of Chandlersville, Ohio and Gabriel Weeldreyer ’20 of Mattawan, Michigan, which was especially appropriate to the service because one of John Glenn’s most cherished memories is his own father’s playing of the military calls, and his patience and dedication in teaching those to his young son. Senator Glenn later described as one of the high points of his life the day his father, a World War I veteran, asked him to perform Echoing Taps with him on Decoration Day, with his father on a war-beaten bugle and he on his trumpet.

Trumpet“It recalls the patriotic feeling of New Concord, the pride and respect everyone in the town felt for the United States of America,” Senator Glenn later said. “That feeling sums up my childhood. It formed my beliefs and my sense of responsibility. Everything that came after that just seemed to follow naturally.”

To watch the service, go to Orbit Media's live stream footage on its Twitter page or the Youtube page for the full production.

Be Still, My Soul
Homily by Rev. William E. Mullins ’02, University Chaplain

Will MullinsSeventy-five years ago yesterday a young college student by the name of Annie Castor sat poised on the organ bench in Brown Chapel.

Seventy-five years ago yesterday the blue green waters of the Hawaiian Islands churned under the whirl of hundreds of plane propellers, minutes later the bombs fell, the swift and sudden attack came, the smoke billowed and the sirens screamed.

Seventy-five years ago yesterday a young college student by the name of John Glenn sat in this Chapel and waited, listened and hoped. For it was love that hastened both John and Annie into this space, their love of God, their love of music, their love for each other. Both of them, John Glenn and Annie Castor would enter Brown Chapel on Dec. 7th 1941 with love and they would exit in service.

Seventy-five years ago yesterday the deafening explosions in and around Pearl Harbor called men and women to run, to seek shelter, to race towards cockpits and to quickly heave themselves behind anti-aircraft guns—the noise of war called each of them to act and many died.

Seventy-five years ago yesterday the fleet sank and the chaos, the fire, the oil-soaked water and the black smoke took hold of the Hawaiian Islands and thousands of Americans died within minutes.

Seventy-five years ago yesterday Brown Chapel’s organ billowed with notes true and warm, with sounds deep and resonant as one young college student named Annie played her best, her fingers raced along the keys, her feet padded the many pedals in time. The music emerged and filled the space. The music swelled and rose, the music dived and dipped. The music hit its mark of the tender human heart. More powerful than fighter planes, more durable than artillery fire and more lasting than the shock waves of war’s vengeful madness. Annie played and John heard. God’s call to service could be heard in and through the music of Rheinberger, Mozart and Sibelius.

FlagSeventy-five years ago yesterday, the winding way up from Main Street towards Brown Chapel snaked in front of John Glenn as he drove to Annie’s organ recital. The radio played music and John listened. The music cut out and the news came, America was at war, Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor.

When John walked into Brown Chapel 75 years ago yesterday, his heart was troubled—the gravity of that day’s news beckoned him towards a grim and determined reality. When he slid into the pew for what should have been a moment of celebration and excitement, he felt the uncertainty and the trepidation that so many Americans felt that day. God did not leave John to wallow in trepidation and uncertainty. The music Annie played reached him and nudged him, “Be Still My Soul,” the notes carried these words to a place deep within John that had been nurtured, formed and shaped on the sloping hills of Muskingum.

Seventy-five years ago yesterday Annie played the organ and a call to service came with a mysterious peace and a calming clarity. The events of that day bears witness to the most important education that any one of us could ever hope to receive—the learning of what to do when evil strikes and so much is at stake.

John said it best when he turned to Annie after the service and said “I have to go.” John remembers holding her hand with tears in her eyes as he spoke these words.

Seventy-five years ago yesterday two people in love stilled the raging waters of separation and the reality of war by choosing to serve, by believing that this tiny, small, schoolhouse on the hill had prepared them to move mountains, to overcome their struggles, and to endure in the face of tragedy set before them.

Seventy-five years ago yesterday in this space God spoke and John and Annie listened, for in this spot the eternal nagging question of who shall we be and what shall we do was so beautifully answered, so steadfastly pursued, so unwaveringly sought—this son and this daughter of New Concord set out that day to love, to inspire, and to serve.

And now 75 years and a day later, we each of us this day hear the echoing strain of two lives so profoundly well-lived. Amen.