Photo by Spc.
The 23rd Army Band,
foreground, and the combined Granite School District
high school choirs perform for veterans and families
SALT LAKE CITY —
The Utah National Guard honored veterans of all services
again this year with a concert held at the University of
Utah’s Huntsman Center Nov. 11.
The concert marked the 50th
year of this annual event and showcased the 23rd
Army Band, led by Chief Warrant Officer J. Mike Cottam, and
the combined high school choirs from Granite School
The first concert in the
series was held in 1955, and the event is the longest,
continuously running Veterans Day celebration in the nation.
Master of Ceremonies for
the evening was Tech. Sgt. Sterling Poulson, a local
television personality and member of the Utah Air National
Guard. KUED Television produced the program for tape-delay
broadcast on Channel 7 and for rebroadcast on the Armed
Photo by Spc.
Dancers from Utah Valley
State present a big-band dance number at the 50th
Annual Veterans Day concert sponsored by the Utah
The program featured
musical selections which have been presented by the band
and the choir over the past 50 years.
instrumental and vocal solos, and the audience was also treated
to a dance number featuring the Utah Valley State Dance Team
dressed as World War II Sailors, Soldiers and nurses.
During a special
Millard County Sheriff Ed Phillips received the
Pro Patria award, presented to him by Utah Employer Support of the Guard and
Reserve Chairman Brig. Gen. (Ret.) James Martin.
Sgt. 1st Class Richard
Carter, Alpha Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery, nominated
Phillips for the award for the tremendous support the
sheriff's office, Carter's civilian employer, provided to
him during his deployment to Iraq.
Commander in Chief of the
Utah National Guard
Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., keynoted the concert with
some brief remarks to thank veterans old and new for their
Photo by Spc.
Air Force veterans in
the audience stand as their Service's
song, "Wild Blue
Yonder," is played at the concert.
Huntsman paid tribute to
World War II Veterans Ray Casaday and Marvin Mower, and
Vietnam prisoner of war Jay Jensen.
"They, along with
thousands of other Utahns, have served and sacrificed for
our nation and continue to do so," he said.
To those serving today,
Huntsman added, "Since the start of the Global War on
Terrorism, our deployment numbers are the highest in the
history of the Utah National Guard. On behalf of a very
grateful state, please accept deep thanks and appreciation."
One of the traditional
highlights of the evening was the playing of the Army, Navy,
Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard songs. Master of
Ceremonies Poulson invited veterans present to stand while
their Service’s song was played. The audience erupted with
applause as Service members old and young stood for their
The evening also provided
plenty of excitement for members of the combined choir.
First-timer Oyoyo Bonner, a sophomore at Cyprus High School,
was one of three soloists for the song, “So Many Voices.”
She was in awe of the pageantry and tribute to veterans.
Photo by Sgt. 1st
Class Greg Cullis
Sgt. 1st Class Ron Stevens
plays a violin solo, "Irish Tune
Derry," at the Veterans Day concert Nov. 11.
“I’ve never done anything
like this before. It felt good to be a part of it,” Bonner
said after the concert. “Our veterans have done so much for
us. I appreciate their sacrifice.”
And band members expressed
appreciation for what the choir adds to the concert each
year. Sgt. Randy Cox, tuba player with the 23rd
Army Band, said it’s very rewarding to accompany the choir
every year, but this year’s event took on even more meaning
for him personally.
“I’m dedicating this
year’s concert to my brother serving in the Middle East as a
member of the Naval Reserve,” Cox said.
Adding a not-so-typical
element to a brass-band concert, Sgt. 1st Class Ron Stevens,
Joint Forces Headquarters, Utah National Guard, played a
beautiful and stirring violin solo, “Irish Tune from County
Derry,” more popularly known as “Danny Boy.”
A veteran himself, Stevens
deployed with the 144th Evacuation Hospital during
Desert Storm. He has played the violin for more than 50
years and has performed as a soloist at the Tabernacle at
Stevens received a
standing ovation and was coaxed into performing an encore
number, “Romance,” with his daughter, Teresa Stevens Winder,
at the piano.
Photo by Spc.
Members of the 23rd Army
Band show their versatility by singing the songs of
the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines.
"It was a real honor to
perform with Teresa in this special setting. As a veteran
myself, I know what it feels like to be away from home and
family," Stevens said. "It was also fun to see the looks on
many of my Guard colleagues' faces who had no idea that I
played the violin."
The concert concluded with
“Taps,” played by 1st Sgt. David Krueger,
followed by the two concert staples over the years, “Battle
Hymn of the Republic” and “Stars and
Ray Casaday, mentioned by
the governor in his remarks, was a Marine who was wounded in
the Battle of Tarawa in November 1943 in
World War II. He was in attendance at the concert for the first
time. He summed up for his fellow Utah veterans what it
meant to have this honor paid to them.
“I loved it,” Casaday said. “It was a wonderful