A Patriotic Tribute Concert was held on Memorial Day morning at the Van Alstyne American Legion, presented to the public by Ivory Artists, Inc. — a nonprofit organization run by Lisa Thomas with the mission to promote American music and culture — in order to honor local veterans who fought for our freedom.

The Patriotic Tribune Concert Band consists of Margaret Mealy on flute and piccolo; Macey Gregg on clarinet; John Vietta on trumpet; Tristan Eggener on tuba; Joe Jackson on percussion; Leslie Gregg on flute; Chris Dickson on French horn; Michael Waters on trombone; John Jackson on percussion; Josh Harris as tenor soloist; and Thomas on piano. The band is conducted by James Carter and Thomas. All band members were present, excluding Leslie Gregg, who was sick.

The concert included a welcome and introduction by Commander of the Van Alstyne American Legion, Bill Murley, and a presentation of the colors and raising of the flag by Van Alstyne Boy Scout Troop #44. The troop raised the colors, which went all the way to the top of the flag pole and then back down to half mast to celebrate the holiday.

Murley addressed the audience about the importance of parents and grandparents to teach their children about patriotism and about being proud to be an American. He told the audience that people should be committed to teaching youth about the meaning of Memorial Day and about ways Americans can pay tribute to fallen heroes.

After his speech, the snare drum began a drum roll and Margaret Mealy, first flute and piccolo, opened the concert with “Dixie,” followed by “My Country Tis of Thee,” “America the Beautiful” and “Armed Forces on Parade,” a rousing arrangement of the various songs of the branches of the military.

Thomas then addressed the crowd and told them it was their turn to join a sing along of the various branches of the songs of the military. She said if anyone had lost a loved one who served in these branches, or if they had served themselves, that these songs were a tribute for them. Thomas played the songs on the piano and the crowd followed along on the printed word sheets — one verse for the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard songs, followed by two verses of the hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.” Then the brass played a fanfare and everyone sand two verses of “God of Our Fathers.”

Van Alstyne veterans and other veterans present were recognized and presented with a meal gift card valid at Dickey’s BBQ or La Cima in Van Alstyne. The memorial inscriptions readings was ended with a soulful trumpet solo of Tapps by trumpeter John Vietta. Then Josh Harris sang a stirring and rousing tenor solo with a soundtrack recording of “I’m Proud to Be An American.”

A fireworks climax number followed with “Stars and Stripes Forever,” with every member of the band playing, including Thomas on piano.

Thomas addressed the crowd about the tradition of putting yellow ribbons around an old oak tree, which started during the Vietnam War and became a widespread national tradition at the end of the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1981. This tradition has continued to today as a sign of hope in bringing those currently serving home safely and as a sign to them that they are not forgotten while they are away serving.

Thomas also made poppy lapel pins for herself and the band members to wear, reading a story about the tradition of the poppies to honor the fallen, which she got from USA Today. Poppies have become known as an internationally-recognized symbol of welfare and remembrance of war veterans.

To end the concert, the band closed with the snare drum roll and piccolo to “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” with the band joining in on the second and third verses.

Thomas asked for donations to help perpetuate this Memorial Day Patriotic Tribute program for local veterans. If you would like to donate, please send to Ivory Artists, Inc., P.O. Box 1591, Van Alstyne, Texas 75495 or you can donate through the paypal button on the website, www.IvoryArtists.org.