Hail to the Veterans

Written by Zoe Stack

From the opening bars of the National Anthem to the last ringing notes of Stars and Stripes Forever, the night was designed to honor this country’s veterans.

Tuesday, May 19th, the Wauwatosa West band played a concert titled, American Heros. This concert follows on the heels of a show the band played at the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii over spring break. The band has been preparing for this concert for over two months and both teacher and students were excited for the performance.

“It is a tremendous opportunity for us to reach out into the community and involve others in an important powerful way, honoring those who have served in the military and combining that with the power of what se do as musicians,” said band teacher Guy Kammerer.

The show opened with the Honor Guard presenting the colors, bringing the flags of the United States of America, and the Wisconsin flag to the stage. Like all other military personnel, they were very honored to be there.

“Lots of our post are Vietnam vets and they were spat on and degraded. They think this is a great honor and we thank you for it,” said Honor Guard member Rod Haines.

Haines himself never served in war, but this is his way of, “giving back to those that did.” The Honor Guard are present during veteran burials and average about 3-4 funerals a week.

To each present, the concert held a different meaning.

“There are so many of us, and so many of us didn’t come back,” said Roger Merkel, a Korean War veteran. He was also very pleased to be present because, as he said, the Korean War doesn’t receive many accolades.

This concert was not just a big deal to West but to the community as a whole. Channel 58 came and covered the event.

It wasn’t even just West and news stations that were interested. Attending community members felt the importance of the event.

“I think anything like this is good to promote patriotism,” says Inge Adams. Adams was attending to watch her grandson Will Awve who plays in the band.

“My husband was in the service and he is no longer with us, but he’d be very proud,” Adams said.

The concert was extremely important to West band members as well.

“It was cool to play all the different branches’ themes and cool to see how many veterans have served and how were involved in serving and protecting our country,” said Wauwatosa West Junior, Xavier Feltes, who plays the tuba in the band.

“I really loved playing for veterans and i feel even more proud to live in this country,” Feltes concluded.

To all involved and present it was a great event and held a lot of meaning.

“It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck… Overall I’m just thrilled. When we came back we were spit on, and now we are getting accolades,” veteran Peter Schiller concluded.

Several veterans, including Schiller were presented with a flag that was flown over Pearl Harbor on the day that the Wauwatosa West band played there.