BY CAROL ROEHM
Weeks of preparation go into Danville High School’s Salute to Veterans concert, the high school’s largest community performance of the year.
The end result is more than 300 high school band, orchestra and choral members performing patriotic tunes as a moving tribute to honor area veterans. This year, the Junior ROTC cadets also will participate in the program.
This is the 17th year for the high school’s annual tribute to area veterans, which will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, in the high school’s Dick Van Dyke auditorium. The program is free and open to the public.
The evening will have special significance for at least one Vietnam veteran who will receive his Danville High School diploma. In addition, DHS Wall of Fame inductee — former Danville Mayor Robert E. Jones — will be honored at the concert.
This is the first year DHS’ band director Kent Krause has been involved with the concert.
“I’m excited to be a part of it,” Krause said, saying that last year, his sister, DHS director of choral activities Kassy Krause, called the event “amazing” and “inspiring.”
“It’s a great opportunity for the community to get together and honor the veterans,” he said.
The high school’s two orchestras will be combined into one to perform as an ensemble, he said, and “I’ve combined the three bands into one mega band.”
“We’re going to perform patriotic songs by John Philip Sousa and collaborate with the choirs to perform the armed forces medley,” Krause said.
During the Armed Forces Salute, each branch of the armed forces will stand to be recognized and honored.
Krause said the “grand finale” of the event will be The Battle Hymn of the Republic performed by the band, orchestra and the choirs — Contemporaries, Delegation, Singing Vikings and Viking Chorale.
“We all separately practice by ourselves, and then we have a culminating rehearsal with everybody involved,” he explained. “Everybody is ultra prepared.”
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer will narrate the evening, giving an introduction and a bit of history about each song.
A popular feature, “Letters from Home,” which is a PowerPoint presentation set to music, also will return this year.
One of the highlights of the evening, however, will occur when at least one veteran will be presented with a high school diploma, said Nancy Van Vickle, Danville High School’s registrar.
Van Vickle said the Vietnam veteran who will receive his diploma Thursday night contacted her earlier this year, knowing what has been done in the past.
The veterans are given the option of receiving their diploma during the Salute to Veterans concert, at the high school’s graduation ceremony on June 2 or with no public presentation.
In 2002, Illinois passed legislation to allow veterans of World War II and the Korean Conflict who were honorably discharged and had left school to participate in the armed forces to receive their high school diplomas. State Sen. Michael Frerichs introduced a bill in 2008 to include honorably discharged veterans who served in the armed forces of the United States during the Vietnam Conflict.
Van Vickle said veterans need to present their honorable discharge paper to her, and then she “requests records from the school so we know what year they should have graduated.”
During last year’s 16th annual veterans’ concert, four veterans received their high school diplomas.
If you go
The 17th annual Danville High School Salute to Veterans concert will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, in the high school’s Dick Van Dyke auditorium. The program is free and open to the public.
World War II, Korean Conflict and Vietnam veterans who attended DHS and withdrew before graduation are eligible to receive their diploma and should contact DHS registrar Nancy Van Vickle at 444-1507.