Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Byron Crawford
Henry County barn has role in Marines' message to America

Thanks to the U.S. Marine Corps, a barn near Smithfield in Henry County will make a dramatic cameo appearance in a commercial airing during tonight's "American Idol" episode and Sunday's NFL-AFC championship game on FOX.

The new "America's Marines" spot -- which intercuts scenes from the Grand Canyon in Arizona and images from Times Square in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and other iconic landmarks from coast to coast -- also features a scene in front of a rustic white barn with a red roof about a mile north of Smithfield in north-central Kentucky. It's among the rural and small-town scenes from Kentucky, Tennessee and Rhode Island.

The campaign is designed to strengthen the nation's understanding of the Marine Corps as "America's 911 Force." It depicts a symbolic line of Marines guarding some of the nation's most revered landmarks and her heartland.

"Smithfield just provided us with a backdrop that says 'America,' " said Staff Sgt. Brian Griffin, a Marine spokesman. "What we wanted to do was deepen the connection with the American public. And what better way to do that than to show that Marines come from every corner of the United States -- be it New York … San Francisco or Smithfield, Kentucky."

A Hollywood production company filmed several scenes in October on farms in the general vicinity of Sligo and Smithfield. The favorite site proved to be the aging white barn with a red roof on the farm belonging to Dwight and Theresa Raymer.

"A guy showed up here one day out of the blue and was asking if they could use one of the barns for a commercial for the Marines," said Theresa Raymer. "Oh, it was really a big ordeal. They had my husband over there moving hay bales and had tents put up and caterers come in. They even had a woman out there, he told me, that was cutting the weeds from between the soybeans."

The Marines who appear in the commercial are members of the Corps' Silent Drill Platoon, a unit of individually selected Marines headquartered in Washington, D.C., who perform difficult, precision spin-and-toss drill movements with hand-polished, 10 1/2-pound M1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets.

The shoot was scheduled to coincide with a Silent Drill Platoon exhibition in nearby Scottsburg, Ind. Numerous local residents showed up to watch the filming on Sunnyside Road near Smithfield.

"We feel that anyone might feel a connection with this commercial," Griffin said. "I've seen it a half-dozen times, and I still get chills when I see it. We want to show that the nobility of service is still there."

Byron Crawford's column appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Reach him at (502) 582-4791 or Comment on this column, and read previous columns, at