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An honor to veterans

My Opinion
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor

‘No soldier chooses to die.’
That was the opening words of the North Harrison High School Marching Cougars’ band show this year.
Each time I heard that voice begin the show I had a haunting feeling, and I usually had tears in my eyes by the time the show, titled ‘When You Tell Their Story,’ ended.
And I can tell you I wasn’t alone.
Grown men, many who served in the military, were moved to tears by the show, which, most likely, prompted reminders of what it was like to serve this country. And if they were not enlisted at one time themselves, they generally had a family member who was.
In case you didn’t see the show, it used the shape of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall as its backdrop and the band students portrayed soldiers. There was no glorification of combat, but it did convey a sense of what military battles might be like.
Jim Jones, director of the Marching Cougars, said, that while the show may have appeared to be about the Vietnam War, it was a tribute to servicemen and women from all wars.
Many veterans, including a group of Freedom Riders Motorcycle Club members, attended a public performance of the band’s show on Oct. 25. Representatives of Milltown American Legion 332 were there and presented the school with an American flag and a MIA-POW flag. The bleachers of the football stadium were nearly filled for the performance, which also was a time to show support for the band that, four days later, would make its 11th appearance since 1997 in the Indiana State School Music Association’ marching band competition finals.
At ISSMA state finals, several strangers told band members that they were moved by the show.
If the band’s performance was judged on the emotion conveyed by the show, it easily would have won. Instead, the Marching Cougars finished sixth in the class of 10 bands and, like the soldiers they were portraying, they held their heads high as they marched out of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis after the awards ceremony.
(Our other marching bands that competed this fall ‘ Corydon Central Vanguard, Crawford County Marching Wolfpack and, for its first season, South Central Regiment ‘ also were joys to watch this season and performed well.)
Some of the students in the band developed a better understanding of the nation’s respect for our soldiers as the marching season went along and they heard comments from those who saw the show.
And the community took advantage of showing its support for the band as well as veterans by responding to a request for donations, ranging from $5 to $15, by submitting names of military personnel. All the names submitted were listed on the band’s program. Others, for the larger donation, were printed on the uniforms that band members wore, creating even more of a connection between the veterans and the students.
While it’s true that those who sign up to fight for our freedoms hope they don’t have to give the ultimate sacrifice, they know the possibility exists. And, unfortunately, we recently have seen too many lives lost due to wars.
On Friday, the nation will celebrate Veterans Day, a time to honor all of our military veterans. I hope you take the time to remember those who gave their all for our freedoms but also be sure to thank those who are still alive for their service and dedication.
It’s their stories that remind us of the sacrifices that have been made in order for us to have all the freedoms that are granted to us.