In commemoration of the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary, a Massed High School Bands Concert was held on Sunday, Nov. 5, at the Salem Civic Center. Organizers estimate approximately 1,800 people were in attendance at the event. Eight high school bands from the Roanoke Valley performed popular songs from the 1960 and 1970s:
- William Fleming High School Band
- William Byrd High School Band
- Hidden Valley High School Band
- Patrick Henry High School Band
- Northside High School Band
- Cave Spring High School Band
- Glenvar High School Band
- Salem High School Band
The individual band performances were followed by the performance of a massed band, which included students selected from each of the high school bands. Conducted by Maestro David Stewart Wiley, the massed band played several patriotic selections in honor of the Vietnam veterans. The final piece in the concert was the “Armed Forces Salute,” during which veterans who were present from each branch of the military stood to be recognized when their service song was played.
The concert was hosted by the Roanoke Valley Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Committee, which includes representatives from the Cities of Roanoke and Salem, Roanoke County, Town of Vinton, and the Association of the United States Army (Stonewall Jackson Chapter).The committee was tasked with holding at least two events each year, from 2015 to 2017, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
In addition to the Massed High School Bands Concert, for 2017 events included Municipal Wreath-Laying Ceremonies on March 29, at high noon in Lee Plaza, at the Salem Red Sox Veterans Memorial, and at “High Ground” Vinton-Roanoke County Veterans Monument, on the grounds of the Vinton War Memorial. On this day in 1973, the last combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam.
Also planned is a social event, “Saluting Those Who Served,” which will be held on Nov. 17 to honor Vietnam Veterans, their families, and partners who have supported the 50th Anniversary commemorative events. The Massed High School Bands Concert was the final public event planned.