Symphony Band presents Salute to Veterans

Published 11:00 pm Friday, November 9, 2012

The Troy University Symphony Band will present its annual Salute to Veterans Concert Monday at 7 p.m. Monday night at the Claudia Crosby Theater on the campus of Troy University.

The concert will be directed by Director of Bands Dr. Mark Walker, Troy University director of bands and is free and open to the public.

“This is yet another way the University recognizes the sacrifices our fighting men and women make for us,” Dr. Walker said. “Our liberties, our freedoms endure because our veterans and current members of the military are willing to stand in Harm’s way for us all. This concert is one way we can express our thanks to them.”

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The concert begins with the very popular and exciting “American Overture” by Joseph Wilcox Jenkins, who was a staff arranger for the United States Marine Band, “The President’s Own.”

Other music to be performed is “Variations on ‘America’” by Charles Ives, great marches such as “In Storm and Sunshine” and “The Pathfinder of Panama,” and veterans and current service members from each service branch will be recognized by the playing of their service song. Finally, there will be a patriotic sing –a-long and a rendition of the “National March of the United States,” John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Due to a prior commitment, Dr. Johnny Long, director of band emeritus, will not be in attendance at the concert but he will be there in spirit.

When the “The Stars and Stripes Forever” is being played, Long said that his heart swells with pride in appreciation for his country.

“There’s no march to compare with it,” Long said. “It is the National March of the United State and there is nothing that makes me prouder than that. It was the unofficial ‘national march” for 50 years and it looked like it would never be the ‘official’ national march. I’m just proud to have had a small part in the Congress of the United States naming the ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ the ‘national march.’”

Long was the president of the American Bandmasters Association and spearheaded the effort to get Congress to give Sousa’s song the distinction it so deserved.

“It looked like the only way to get it done was to go to the President of the United States and get him behind it,” Long said. “But I knew that President Ronald Reagan wasn’t going to see Johnny Long. But I thought he might see Jimmy Said, who was a friend of mine and his.”

Said owned music stores all across Oklahoma and had made a large contribution to Reagan’s presidential campaign.

“I asked Jimmy if he would talk to President Reagan about getting the ‘Stars and Stripes’ declared the national march and he did,” Long said. “President Reagan asked him who was for it and he said the American Bandmasters Association. The President said, then, he was for it but we still had to get it through Congress.”

Long said that Sen. Howell Heflin and Rep. Bill Dickinson came on board as did members of Congress from all across the United States.

“Bill Dickinson was chairman of the Armed Services Committee at that time so he had a lot of influence,” Long said. “In 1987, ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ became the National March of the United States and that was a proud day for the American Band Masters Association, for me personally and for our country.”

Long will not be at the “Salute to Veterans” concert Monday night but he encourages all veterans to be there to be recognized and honored and the people of Pike County to attend and show their appreciation for America’s veterans.