Austintown school bands to honor veterans

Staff report


One hundred years to the day, 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 the United States 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 Veterans” will take place at 5 p.m. Sunday in the high school gymnasium. The program, open to the public, will feature 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 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 titled “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. 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 free to veterans and senior citizens.

Before to the concert, the band also will host its annual Chili Cookoff in the Fitch cafeteria from 2 to to 4 p.m.

Area restaurants and amateur chefs will present their chilis for judging both by the public and by five local veterans. First-, second- and third-place awards will be selected by the veterans, and the public will choose the “People’s Choice Award” winner.

At the concert and cookoff, the band will sell the 2018 Fitch Band Annual Ornament featuring the drum major’s uniform and “March Grandioso” written by an alumnus of the 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 Cookoff, 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

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