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The Volunteers strike chord with veterans during spring tour
By Jonathan E. Agee
The United States Army Field Band
Photo credit: Jonathan E. Agee
Arnold J. Baca, veteran, performs “Danny Boy” with The Volunteers March 18 at the Northwest Louisiana War Veterans Home.
During Spring Tour 2012, The Volunteers performed in several veterans’ homes throughout the South Central United States. Each time they perform it is a special chance to connect with and honor those who have paved the way for today’s men and women in uniform.
When performing in veterans’ homes, The Volunteers typically choose music that will resonate with the residents. A crowd favorite is “You Are My Sunshine,” which proved to be extraordinarily popular with the Louisiana veterans because the song was composed by Jimmie Davis, 47th governor of Louisiana.
The veterans also enjoy patriotic tunes such as “American Soldier” and “God Bless America.” The Volunteers are such a unique group of musicians that they are able to perform patriotic tunes one moment and transition into classic rock, country, and blues the next. Sometimes they even get the audience involved.
While performing in the Northwest Louisiana War Veterans Home, they noticed a veteran in the audience who could play harmonica. Without missing a beat, The Volunteers invited him on stage and together they performed “Danny Boy.”
“It was fun,” said Arnold J. Baca, veteran who performed with The Volunteers. “I can’t read music, so I do it all by ear. I’ve been doing this since I was 12 years old.”
Baca never misses a chance to perform with a band, said Frankie Canty, activities director for Northwest Louisiana War Veterans Home. “It’s been on the calendar that the Army Field Band is coming and people were looking forward to it,” said Canty. “There are a lot of them who are musicians.”
Often times when The Volunteers perform at veterans homes, community supporters attend as well. During a performance at a home in Jennings, Louisiana, the mayor showed up to show his support.
“I think it is great any time veterans can come out and entertain our former veterans,” said Terry W. Duhon, Jennings mayor. “I think that they enjoyed it, and I love to see events like this at our veterans’ homes. These veterans have served our country for so many years it’s important to give back to them; I don’t think we can do enough for them. It’s great to see current veterans entertaining our former veterans.”
The Volunteers are known as Soldiers representing Soldiers. They travel the country telling the Army story and exemplifying the excellence found throughout today’s Army. However, when The Volunteers perform in veterans’ homes, it is often the Soldier-Musicians who hear the Army story, and are humbled by those who served before them.