Spring Showband concert salutes veteran sacrifice
The USAO Showband continues a tradition of public service as it calls attention to the sacrifices and hardships that veterans face upon returning home in a concert scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium.
In conjunction with VFW Post 9265, the Showband is using the upcoming concert to raise money and collect items to help homeless veterans.
In addition to collecting donations at the show, the band has enlisted the First National Bank and Trust to place donation boxes at its main and Grand Avenue locations.
The VFW is especially grateful for donations that might be useful to homeless veterans receiving care at the Veterans Administration hospitals. Such items might include shaving supplies, 3-in-1 soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, tooth paste, socks, sweat pants and clean men’s clothing.
To draw awareness to the important role that veterans have played, Showband Director Joe Settlemires has put together a set list that reflects several generations of Americans at war from the World War II up to the present day.
Songs chosen for performance include “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “Red Sails in the Sunset” and “God Bless the USA” among others.
In addition, images of veterans related to USAO students, staff and faculty will be displayed during the concert as a reminder that veterans are a part of every family.
Donna Settlemires, assistant director, uses “God Bless the USA” as an example of the complex relationship that music can play in relation to the historical life of a nation.
“The song was originally recorded in 1984 but was revived during the first Gulf War and then again after 9/11,” Settlemires said.
“Some people like to play ‘gotcha’ and say ‘But we weren’t even at war in 1984’ at which point I remind them that, war or no, nearly 2000 American military lost their lives that year serving their country. Being a veteran isn’t just about war. It’s about service.”
The Showband has performed several benefits for the VFW. The group traveled to Oklahoma City last September to play a Big Band Night dinner to help raise money for homeless veterans. The event raised over $1600 to provide clothing and other services to veterans living in shelters and on the streets.
More recently, the group performed a Valentine’s Day Dance for Post 9265, raising more than $1200.
VFW Post 9265 Commander Michael Sexton said, “it is very uplifting to see young adults who care enough about their community and the well being of those individuals who have defended our country to give up their own free time to help make a difference. Those who attended the dinner are still raving about how wonderful the band was and would welcome the opportunity to hear them again.”
The band features mostly USAO students but with a few “guest” players as young as 13.
“One reason that we wanted to dedicate this concert to veterans was to raise awareness about veterans of all ages,” Settlemires said. “Younger kids don’t necessarily realize the sacrifices that have been made by generation after generation so that they can be free.”
“We want to use the Showband as a tool to help teach them to respect and honor those people in the community who have served in any capacity. One of the things we try to teach is how to give.”
The ensemble this year includes Jesus Almendarez, a freshman music major from Devol; Olen Cox, a senior music major from Grant; Lisa Fruit, a junior speech language pathology major from Mustang; Harrison Guy, a freshman biology major from Oklahoma City; Emily Harrison, a freshman music major from Lindsay; Colten Neighbors, a sophomore music major from Lawton; Kendra Russell, a freshman music major from Mannsville; Mackenzie Stephenson, a senior music major from Healdton; and Katlynn Worner, a sophomore mathematics major from Moore.
Additional musicians include John Clinton, of Norman, on tenor sax and a 13-year-old drummer from Cyril, Bradley Alexander.
More information about the concert can be obtained by calling 405-448-0501.