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Fitch Band holds sixth annual veterans concert and chili cook-off

November 7, 2018
The Town Crier

One hundred years to the date, on the 11th day of the 11th month of 2018, the Austintown Middle School and Austintown Fitch High School Bands will honor veterans and the end of World War I. On Nov. 11, 1918 the "Great War" ended. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with America and its Allies in a railroad car outside Compiegne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

The Seventh Annual Austintown Board of Education and Austintown Band Department's "Musical Salute to the Veteran's" will take place at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, in the High School gymnasium. The program, open to the public, features the three Austintown Middle School Bands under the direction of Jeremy McClaine and the Fitch High School Marching Band and Symphonic Band under the direction of Wesley O'Connor. The sixth, seventh and eighth grade bands will play patriotic selections while the High School Marching Band will perform music from its field shows from the fall football season. This year, the band played several selections to honor the end of World War I, including "Over There" and "It's a Long Way to Tipperary." As a feature for the concert the Symphonic Band will perform a concert number of "Country Wildflowers" which includes a narration by Youngstown Attorney and Army Veteran Raymond Hartsough of John McCrae's Poem "In Flanders Fields." The poem, written to commemorate the red poppies that grew on the front lines of France and Belgium during World War I, has special significance to the Youngstown Community. Artist Robert Vonnoh had painted a picture entitled "In Flanders Field" which in 1919, was sold to Joseph G. Butler. It remains a part of the permanent collection of The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown.

The Band invites all veterans to celebrate this day of recognition and will call men and women from each branch of the service to stand as their branch song is played during the "Armed Forces Medley." Former Austintown Band director and Austintown Elementary School principal Marc Pupino will perform with the band during a "Taps Medley." Fitch Marching Band, which was formed in 1931, has a long patriotic tradition. This past year the band was selected to play in the Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Parade and this coming April the Band will march in the Norfolk NATO Parade of Nations Parade. Six years ago, the band began awarding the "Fitch Band Patriotism Award" to a community group or individual that exemplified the American Spirit in service to the Austintown Community. This year the band will award that honor to the Austintown Fitch Vocal Music Department which is nationally recognized for patriotic performances each year in veterans hospitals throughout the midwest and east coast. Admission to the concert is $5 for adults, $3 for students and veterans and senior citizens are free.

Article Photos

Trumpet players Alex Butrick, Josh Yeager, Patrick Coleman and Derrick Yost as the band plays 'Stars & Stripes Forever' to honor to Austintown’s veterans.

Prior to the concert, from 2 to 4 p.m. the band will also host its annual Chili Cook-off in the Fitch cafeteria. Area restaurants and amateur chefs will present their chilis for judging both by the public and by 5 local Veterans. First, Second and Third place awards will be selected by the Veterans and the public will pick the "People's Choice Award." At the concert and cook-off, the band will sell the 2018 Fitch Band Annual Ornament featuring the drum major's uniform and "March Grandioso" written by an alumnus of Dana School of Music and one of the band's traditional marches. A 50/50 raffle will be held throughout the day to benefit local veterans in need. Admission to the Chili Cook-off, which features unlimited chili tastes, cornbread, a cupcake and a beverage is $5 for adults, $3 for students, seniors and veterans. For more information see the band's website at, or Austintown Band Parents on Facebook or email

Austintown Fitch High School will honor veterans when it holds the 35th Annual Veterans Day Assembly on Monday, Nov. 12 at 9 a.m. in the Fitch High School auditorium. Speakers this year include Vietnam veteran Roger Bacon and Sgt. First Class Kimberly McGinnis.

Bacon is a United States Marine Corps veteran, with a Navy Commendation Medal for Valor and three Purple Hearts. He is also scheduled to be inducted into the Military Hall of Fame for Valor in April 2019.

McGinness will be the first women speaker at the annual veterans day assembly. She is active duty United States Army in Iraq. She has received a Purple Heart, Iraq Campaign Medal three stars and an Army Commendation Medal 4H oak leaf cluster.

Sgt. Larry Kuhn's family will be present for a presentation of an honorary diploma.

All the public, veterans and active duty military are welcome to attend the ceremony.



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