On Monday, the University of Mississippi Choir, Orchestra and the Oxford Civic Chorus performed in honor of Veterans Day. Ole Miss ROTC groups volunteered to support the program and recognize veterans in the area.
Marketing director Kate Meacham noted that this event was one of the first of its kind. The choir often holds its concerts at the Ford Center, but Meacham does not recall a formal veterans concert held in the center before this year.
“We always like having the university ensembles here and also having community groups here as well,” Meacham said. “So this is kind of a kind of perfect storm. It’s kind of a great time for the campus and the community to come together to do a performance. It’s truly a good night, a great idea and a wonderful thing that we’re able to take part in.”
Throughout the performance, veterans were both personally honored and recognized as groups. The event started with a chance for those who have served to stand with those who fought during the same time.
Speaker Andrew Newby, assistant director of veterans and military services at the university, focused on those who returned from Vietnam after enlisting or being drafted and not being welcomed back the same way previous veterans had.
“I also make an effort to individually recognize those veterans who served during the Vietnam War and make it a point to welcome them home,” Newby said. “Because of the way they were treated, my generation of service members don’t have to experience that form of resentment.”
Newby was approached by the music department as part of an opportunity to connect with the community on the day of remembrance.
“The entire performance from the musicians was world-class,” Newby said. “I was moved when the musicians performed each piece, and the level of musicianship and the skill each performer demonstrates with their craft was remarkable.”
Professor of aerospace studies for the Air Force ROTC Lt. Col. Christopher Maroney said that the music department reached out to the organization for involvement.
“We were absolutely thrilled to be part of it,” Maroney said.
The event was also an opportunity for ROTC members to be recognized for what they do and participate in honoring local veterans.
“It’s a recognition different from Memorial Day,” Maroney said. “Veterans Day is an opportunity to recognize differently here at the university with the ROTC program. The cadets, the midshipmen and the Marines that will serve (have) an opportunity to recognize those that are serving and have had the opportunity to serve our country.”
The performance featured stories of local veterans, the presentation of the colors from the university’s color guard and the Scroll of Honor.
The Ford Center facilitated the event put together by campus groups and is interested in holding more community-based events in the future.
“We can only grow from here, and I know that based on the level of support we received in our first year, this will only get better as we continue to highlight the shared service of our community’s incredible veterans, past and present,” Newby said.