More than 500 people attended the recent concert salute to area veterans at Newark High School organized by Robert Humphrey, NHS instrumental music teacher, and Kate Flock, NHS vocal music teacher.
“I’m very excited to start what we hope will become an enduring tradition at Newark High School,” Humphrey said. “It was a heartwarming night which allowed the kids the chance to give back to their community.”
“I am so grateful to the veterans who have fought for our country,” Flock said. “This was such a nice way for our musicians to say ‘thank you.’ I am hopeful that a new tradition has begun with the Newark music department.”
Humphrey and Flock thanked veterans during the concert.
“The entire music department is pleased and honored to be able to present this concert to our area veterans,” they said. “Everything we have is due, in large part, to the sacrifices made by you, America’s truest heroes. We ask that you accept the event as a gesture of thanks to you and yours for all you have done, sacrificed, witnessed and empowered for the sake of freedom. Children need the opportunity to honor those who truly deserve recognition. We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for giving them the chance to do so.”
A fall concert in October featured instrumental and vocal groups at NHS in previous years, but Humphrey and Flock decided to hold it closer to Veterans Day in November in honor of area veterans.
The concert featured American patriotic music performed by the NHS Concert Band and Wind Ensemble, directed by Humphrey, and NHS Mixed Choir and Chamber Choir, directed by Flock.
U.S. Army Capt. Seth Burgess, a 2002 NHS graduate, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and read patriotic quotations before each musical selection. He was introduced at the event by Cindy Briggs, Kelley School instrumental music teacher and K-12 music department leader.
Burgess attended Rochester Institute of Technology after graduation, and enlisted in the New York Army National Guard in 2004. He was commissioned as a military intelligence officer in 2007 upon completion of RIT’s Army ROTC program.
During his 13 years of military service, Burgess was mobilized twice for Operation Enduring Freedom that included an overseas deployment in 2012 to Afghanistan. He received the Bronze Star Medal for his actions overseas.
Burgess served on active duty with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region II Homeland Response Force, which responds to incidents in the U.S.
Recently selected for promotion to major, he currently serves in the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team with the New York Army National Guard. As a combat veteran, Burgess said he and his family have learned firsthand about the kinds of sacrifices that so many others have made, and they are thankful for all those others who have served.
Superintendent Matt Cook read a poem during a Wind Ensemble selection titled “Each Time You Tell Their Story.” Songs from various service branches played during “Armed Forces: The Price of America,” and veterans were asked to stand and be recognized when their song was played. Downbeat, a NHS rock band directed by Humphrey, performed “God Bless the USA.”
Cmdr. Harry Gajan, of Newark VFW Post 2883, thanked and presented the NHS Music Department with a certificate of appreciation for its efforts to honor veterans.
“I was pleased with our students’ musical growth and professional presentation, and absolutely humbled to have the music department be publicly recognized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.,” Humphrey said.
Veterans and their guests attended a reception in the NHS band room after the concert.