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All invited to free Vets Day concert



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November 03, 2010 - Every year, teacher Jan Flynn and her talented choir students at Oxford Middle School honor local veterans with their golden voices.

This year is no exception as Flynn and her choirs will present their popular Americana Concert on Veterans Day, which is Thursday, Nov. 11. The free concert will begin at 7 p.m. at the Oxford High School Performing Arts Center and run for about an hour.

The concert will feature the sixth, seventh and eighth-grade choirs performing a variety of patriotic music ranging from classic to contemporary.

"We'll probably have 222 kids on stage," Flynn said. "It's going to be a lot of students."

The highlight of the show is when all the kids begin singing Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" with a 40-foot-by-60-foot American flag behind them.

This will be the first time that sixth-grade choir members will be included in the concert. Flynn said it will be a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about veterans and "rub shoulders" with people in the community.

Dr. J. Harold Ellens, U.S. Army Colonel (retired), will be this year's guest speaker.

Ellens is currently deployed nine months per year as a contract psychologist with the Armed Forces. He's involved in the care and treatment of combat veterans.

Ellens has earned numerous military decorations, served with three infantry divisions, taught at the University of Michigan and written approximately 30 books.

"He's quite an accomplished individual," Flynn said. "I don't know how one human being can fit this much into one lifetime."

Flynn's also pleased to welcome the Eastern Michigan Young Marines who will present and retire the colors along with doing drill maneuvers.

"That will be kind of a sparkler in the show as well," she said.

The Young Marines will bring their mascot, Sir Winston, a bulldog who will be wearing his dress blues for the concert.

As always, Flynn is encouraging veterans who attend to wear their uniforms.

"They don't have to, but they're certainly welcome to do that," she said.

This is the eighth year for the Americana Concert. Flynn began doing it as a way for her choirs "to do something meaningful" and "build a bridge into the community."

"Most everyone has a brother or a father or an uncle that's been involved in the Armed Forces," she explained. "It's a chance for us to honor them."

She noted it's also an opportunity to bring the communities together.

"I've invited people from Ortonville, Addison Township, Lake Orion, and of course, Oxford," Flynn said.

For more information about the concert, please visit www.singanddrum.com.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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