Utah National Guard hosts 57th Annual Veterans Day Concert

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  • 151 ARW/PA
The Utah National Guard hosted the 57th annual Veterans Day concert at the University of Utah's Jon M. Huntsman Center Nov. 10.

The event, entitled "Looking Forward," highlighted the sacrifices made by military veterans and their families throughout the history of our nation. Special attention was given to young Airmen and Soldiers, who represent the future of our country and its defense.

"We dedicate these performances tonight, and our performances in uniform in the future, to those who have served in this uniform in the past - whose shoulders we stand upon here tonight," said guest speaker Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, the Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard. "To all those who are currently serving, may our hearts be drawn to those who are in harm's way tonight. May we ponder them and their families and think about them, and may they be in our prayers. We pledge that we will continue to uphold the motto of the National Guard which is, 'Always Ready, Always There.'"

The program included performances by the Utah National Guard's 23rd Army Band, led by
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denny Saunders, and a 600-voice Granite School District high school combined choir.

Dr. Carol Goodson, music specialist for the Granite School District, described her impressions of the concert and its impact on the performing choir students.

"It's a way for our students to perform where it has more meaning," said Goodson. "It's an opportunity for them to learn about the military firsthand, to know what they experience and what they do for us and to develop that feeling within themselves of pride in the military."

"Awesome!" was how Goodson described the choir.

"The thing that is most impressive about this concert is that this is the only thing we do as a whole school district, and they get to do it in a way that develops their patriotism," she continued.

During the program, Zions Bank presented its third annual Veterans Service Award to recently retired Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, the former adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, for his lifetime of service and support of military veterans.

As a new addition to this year's concert, the Utah National Guard, in partnership with the Utah Parent-Teacher Association, recognized the winners of an essay contest for children of currently serving military members. The theme of the contest was "Why I Am Proud to Be a Military Brat."

The following elementary, middle school and high school students were selected as the contest winners and were formally recognized at the concert:

   · Brian Walker, a fifth-grader at Sage Hills Elementary in Saratoga Springs
   · Josiah Ortega, of Excelsior Preparatory Academy in Eagle Mountain
   · Madeline Buhman, a senior at Timpanogos High School in Orem

Americans originally celebrated Veterans Day as the anniversary of the end of World War I when major hostilities of World War I were formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. It was not officially titled Veterans Day until 1954 when the holiday was reestablished as a way to honor all veterans, both living and deceased, who have served throughout U.S. military history.

Chairman of the concert committee, Lt. Col. Marc Savageau, stated attendance at the annual Veterans Day concert is usually between 4,000 to 5,000 persons; however, he estimated the attendance this year to be slightly less due to heavy snowfall that day. The event was free and open to the public. The concert was funded by the Honorary Colonels Corps and by donations from numerous local businesses.

The concert's master of ceremonies, Lt. Col. Hank McIntire, described the importance of honoring Veterans Day and related his favorite portion of the concert.

"We enjoy what we enjoy today because of what veterans have done for us," said McIntire. "We do this concert to honor them. As a veteran myself, it's nice to be remembered and be a part of that brother and sisterhood of those who served.

"One of my favorite parts of the event is the Armed Forces Medley and seeing veterans jump up, clap and sing their Service song," McIntire continued. "That means a lot, especially seeing the older veterans, the ones in wheelchairs and walkers. Watching them try to stand up when their service song is played is very inspiring and very touching."