1st Cav band, Central Texas honor freedom with concert
July 2, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas - As if on cue, the audience fell silent and stood to their feet as the 1st Cavalry Division Honor Guard presented the U.S. flag. Shortly after, music echoed throughout the auditorium.
The 1st Cav. Div. Band joined local choirs in presenting the 43rd Annual "God and Country" Concert at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Mayborn Campus Center in Belton, Texas, June 29.
The First Baptist Church of Belton, Salado, Temple and the Taylor's Valley Baptist Church choirs performed an ensemble of patriotic songs to include "Americana Melody," "Armed Forces on Parade" and "The Mansions of the Lord."
"It was a wonderful experience," said Sue Hamby, whose son served in the Coast Guard, and her husband in the Navy. "I love the military, and I appreciate the Army so much."
Hamby said she has attended the concert every year since 1980.
"It's really special to me, Hamby said. "I see the flag, I'm 76 years old, and I just get goosebumps and I get tearful." Wiping away falling tears she added, "I'm so proud to be an American."
During the concert, WWII veterans in attendance received by-name recognition. Additionally, performers and concert organizers recognized all men and women who have served or currently serve. Tribute was also paid to those who lost their lives protecting freedom.
Originally, the concert only included the First Baptist Church of Belton. Last year, the concert included The First Baptist Church of Salado, and this year the other two churches were added.
Gary Bledsoe, the Minister of Music for the First Baptist Church of Belton coordinated the event. This is his 12th year taking part.
"Central Texas loves the folks at Fort Hood," Bledsoe said. "We're fortunate to have the (1st Cavalry Division) band help us do this."
For one band member, getting outside Fort Hood and interacting with the community is what makes the band mission great.
"I like the fact that we get to interact with the people, not just Killeen, but we get to connect with Central Texas," said Spc. Kenneth Eskridge, a percussionist with the 1st Cav. Div. Band.
It is Eskridge's second year playing the concert, and he said something stood out to him from this and other events.
"I like the spirit of patriotism, not only that America has, but it's really big in the state of Texas," said Eskridge, who hails from Memphis, Tennessee. "That patriotism really opened my eyes, as far as this country goes and what we represent."
The 1st Cavalry Division Band plays concerts throughout the year in areas around Central Texas. Elements of the band will perform at Hood Stadium July 4 from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Admission is free but a military I.D. card is required to get on post. For more information on the concert you can monitor the 1st Cavalry Division Band Facebook page.