Veterans Day concert impacts community through music

by Katherine Lee, VOW editor

When I listen to you and your choir sing, 

I think about difficult times my soldiers and I went through overseas and how nice it would have been to hear something this beautiful in the wake of those events.

I think about how lucky I am to be alive and for the opportunity to attend these concerts, especially since you are singing to me. 

I use your choir performances to silently remember & memorialize my friends that were lost in combat who never got the chance to do the same. 

Especially on days like Veterans Day. 

Great job tonight. Your choir sang like angels from Heaven. I’m very proud of you and all of your friends. Thank your fellow choir members and directors.

This is the message sent to junior Saoirse Gallagher by her father, Sean Gallagher, after the Veterans Day Concert hosted by the choir. Sean served in the U.S. Army for eight years, and his son is currently serving. 

Words like these are the reason Veterans Day is celebrated — to honor the men and women who have put their lives on the line for U.S. citizens.  The choir concert included performances from the high school and middle school choirs. 

A tradition at the Veterans Day concert is while during the Salute to the Armed Forces, the second to last song of the concert, members of each branch stand during their branch’s song. The choir students on stage can see the faces of all those who have served their country. 

“My brother is currently deployed in the Army, and I had no idea if he was going to be at the concert or not,” Saoirse said. “But during ‘The Army Goes Rolling Along,’ I saw the smiling faces of my dad and brother. and it was so hard not to cry.”

The Performing Arts Center was completely packed, with almost every single seat filled by family, friends, and veterans who were invited to watch the performances.

“Sometimes when we go into the concerts, we forget how much we mean to families from around the Willis Communities and even beyond that,” sophomore Breanna Keelan said. “When you think of the Willis Choir you don’t think much until you witness that what we do matters and moves people.”

The choir students submit names of family members who have served in the armed forces which leads to many new discoveries between students and parents.

“Even though I don’t have relatives in the American services, learning that my father was in the Mexican Army filled me with just as much pride,” senior Lucero Garcia said. “He says that what he did was no big deal, but I am proud of him either way. 

Veterans Day should be more than celebrating the lives lost, but also to honor the lives of those who live to tell the story. The journey of men and women in the military is unimaginable to civilians, but the support of having a family at home is just as important as fighting for our country. 

“To me, Veterans Day means not only remembering the men and women that passed serving the country and its citizens, but also those who come back and have to live life with PTSD, depression, and other mental health problems, not to mention physical disabilities and things such as survivor’s guilt,” Saoirse said.  “It means appreciating members of the armed forces for the sacrifice they make for the betterment of the nation.”

One day out of 365 is not enough to honor the service of our veterans who sacrificed their lives for the safety of our country. Civilians stop for one day and recognize the heroes of our nation. 

“Its one day a year to commemorate those who spend a lifetime silently mourning those they’ve known and loved who didn’t make it home,” Saoirse said. “Veterans day couldn’t be more important and neither could our veterans.”