As the final notes of “God Bless America” rang out on the front lawn of Carson Middle School on Thursday, tears streamed down Jerry Voris’ face.
“I’m always emotional, thinking about the war and everything,” he said. “They didn’t remember us when we came home. It’s better now.”
The 61-year-old Vietnam War veteran attended the tribute concert with his wife, Cheryl, at the invitation of their granddaughter.
The concert featured a collection of patriotic songs performed by the Carson Middle School choirs and its marching band. It replaced the traditional assembly the school has held in the past but has not held in the past couple of years.
“This year, I wanted to bring it back as a tribute concert,” said choir teacher Briana Valley. “I think its nice for students to recognize veterans in the community and to sing patriotic songs.”
Delany Lauderbaugh, 13, said it was a privilege to participate.
“Just to sing for the veterans is something really cool to do,” she said. “It’s meaningful to them. They fought in wars, and they know someone appreciates them.”
Jim Hannah, 40, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Carson Middle who fought in Somalia and Haiti in 1993-94, attended the concert with his father, also named Jim, 65, who fought in Vietnam in 1967-68.
“It’s good to see the community support,” said the younger Jim. “It’s something neat to do.”
His father agreed.
“It’s just great to come here and see the kids,” he said.
Eighth-grade history students at the school also interviewed veterans, then created posters with information and photos. The posters are now posted on the front lawn of the middle school, and visitors are invited to stop by and take a look.
“We have learned a lot about ourselves and our country by interviewing people in our community,” said student April Dunlap.
They also serve as inspiration.
“My uncle served, and he’s a role model for me,” said Ari Mastrian, 13.