Honoring veterans near and far

Ferris State hosts Veterans Day concert and ceremonies

Members of the FSU West Central Concert Band at rest during the 14th Annual Veterans Day Concert Sunday, Nov. 13.
Members of the FSU West Central Concert Band at rest during the 14th Annual Veterans Day Concert Sunday, Nov. 13. Photo by: Andrea Cordes | Torch Photographer

Veterans were honored at the 14th Annual Veterans Day Concert with several pieces performed by the FSU West Central Concert Band and ceremonies hosted by local veterans.

The concert was performed Sunday, Nov. 13, in Williams Auditorium to an audience of more than 150 people, including veterans from Ferris and Big Rapids who served in each branch of the armed forces.

The concert included pieces such as “Lest We Forget” by Sy Brandon, honoring World War II veterans, “Variations on a Korean Folk Song” by John Barnes Chance, honoring Korean and Vietnam veterans and “Amazing Grace” by John Newton and performed by Steve Winniger, honoring prisoners of war and those missing in action.

“You may have noticed a small table in the place of honor. It’s set for one,” said Ferris Student Veterans Association member Will Hall. “This table is a way of symbolizing the fact that members of our profession in arms are missing from our midst. They are commonly called POWs or MIAs but we call them ‘brothers.’ They are unable to witness this day and so we remember them.”

USMC Veteran Will Hall recited the following poem during the event:

“The table set for one is small. It symbolizes the frailty of the prisoner alone against his oppressors. Remember. The table cloth is white, symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms. Remember. The single red rose displayed in the vase reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades in arms who keep the vase, awaiting their return. Remember. The yellow ribbon, tied so prominently on the vase, is reminiscent of the yellow ribbon worn upon the lapel and dress of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of our missing. Remember. The candle is lit, symbolizing the upward reach of their unconquerable spirit. Remember. A sliced lemon is the plate to remind us of their bitter fate. Remember. There is salt upon the bread plate, symbolic of the families’ tears as they wait. Remember. The glass is inverted, because they cannot toast with us this day. Remember. The chair is empty because they are not here. Remember, until the day the come home. Remember.”

Ferris Student Veterans Association member Michael Stevens explained further that it’s their way of celebrating veterans and recognizing those who never made it back from the conflicts that have taken place around the world.

During the ceremony, the newly appointed Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Kristi Haik told her personal story of service members in her family. Haik told of how her father is a Marine who served in Vietnam, her brother served as a submariner and son—a Marine—served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jean Bennett of AMVETS Post No. 1941 gave a speech about Holland Park, where a memorial was built and the park was landscaped to honor American service members and their families.

“The memorial park not only included a memorial to our service men and women, but a very special tribute to a very special group of people, who are sometimes forgotten,” Bennett said. “I’m talking about the home front heroes, the American families who endure the long separations, the endless nights of worry and the immense challenges of balancing and maintaining a life while caring for and supporting their service member.”

More information about the Student Veterans Association can be found at the Center for Leadership, Activites and Career Services (CLACS) office.

Information about the AMVETS Post No. 1941 can be found at amvets1941.com.