By Grace King, GTNS News
The audience got a lesson in history and a concert honoring veterans and current members of the armed forces during Mt. Pleasant Community High School’s “To Those Who Serve: An American Salute” concert on Sunday, March 17.
The Mt. Pleasant Community High School’s concert and symphonic bands played eight songs interspersed with readings, video presentations and a little history about each piece.
With the concert on St. Patrick’s Day, many attendees were spotted wearing green. The most eccentric sported sparkly green hats, headbands with clovers sprouting from their heads, green sunglasses and even green tights with leprechauns.
The concert began with “Armed Forces — The Pride of America,” arranged by Larry Clark and Gary Gilpin. As each branch of the armed forces song was played, veterans in the audience were invited to stand and be recognized.
“The Great Locomotive Chase” by Robert W. Smith followed “Armed Forces.” “The Great Locomotive Chase” was a military raid on April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia during the Civil War.
“Precious Lord” by Thomas Dorsey, arranged by Robert W. Smith, was the third song played by MPCHS students. It was Martin Luther King Jr.’s favorite song, often sung at civil rights rallies to inspire crowds. It was sung by Mahalia Jackson at King’s funeral in April 1968.
“Journey Through Shadowood,” by Stephen Melillo, was written to represent the Nov. 11, 1918 armistice that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and Germany. “And The Multitude with One Voice Spoke,” by James L. Hosey, marked the U.S. seeking peaceful change during the 1960s.
During the song “Mekong,” by Robert W. Smith, drummers took their places in different corners of the high school gymnasium, creating a surround sound effect. “Mekong” is a river that flows through Vietnam. The haunting melodies are reminiscent of the sound of the river and the journey of soldiers who served in the Vietnam War.
“Missing Man,” by Jerker Johannsson,” is a salute performed as part of a flypast of aircraft at a funeral or memorial event, typically in memory of a fallen pilot, a well-known military service member or veteran or a well-known political figure.”
The final song was “God Bless America,” by Irving Berlin and Stephen Melillo.”
At the end of the concert was a video thanking veterans featuring many people from the community including Mt. Pleasant Community School District superintendent John Henriksen; Paul Dennison, owner of KILJ; Lisa Oetken, director of Main Street Mt. Pleasant; Dr. DeWayne Frazier, dean of Iowa Wesleyan University; Mt. Pleasant’s Mayor Steve Brimhall; and countless teachers, staff and students.