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By Britney Walker, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Public Affairs Office
FORT McPHERSON, Ga. (Dec. 12, 2010) - More than 2,500 Atlanta residents of all ages braved freezing weather and snow flurries in order to attend The Army Ground Forces Band's 25th Annual Holiday Concert at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Dec. 12.
The silver anniversary production proved well worth their effort, with many people who had attended previous concerts over the years agreeing that this was the best one ever.
Georgia veterans activist and Walk of Heroes board leader Tommy Clack seemed to capture the sentiment of all who made it to the concert: "Thank you so much for the opportunity to enjoy a truly great holiday concert!"
Featuring a joint performance by the concert and show bands, the program offered a selection of holiday music in genres ranging from traditional songs to jazz, rock and gospel, from "The Dreidel Song" and "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" to "Grown Up Christmas List" and "Don't Save It All for Christmas Day."
Led by the band's vocalists, the audience joined in a rousing sing-a-long song at the end of the event, just before an encore performance of "Sleigh Ride."
"We look forward to this special holiday performance each year because it's when we get to thank you, our fellow citizens, for all the support our Soldiers receive throughout the year from the metro Atlanta community," Brig. Gen. Rodney Barham, deputy of Operations and director of Mobilization for U.S. Army Forces Command, said in welcoming remarks.
In addition to the traditional and contemporary holiday music, five pre-recorded video greetings from metropolitan Atlanta Soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan were shown on huge screens. Members of their Families in the audience were recognized with enthusiastic rounds of applause. The Families represented all the other military Families with service members deployed far from home at this special time of year.
"The highlight of the night for me was watching the video messages from troops overseas to their families who were seated in the audience. It means something very special to me that they are busy protecting our freedom while we are enjoying the holiday in the States," said Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Florence of U.S. Army Forces Command.
Before and after the concert, plus during the intermission, hundreds of attendees made their way to several stations in the lobby to sign the poster-sized holiday cards especially created for the occasion. The cards will be sent with the concert guests' best wishes to America's Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines serving in Operations New Dawn (Iraq) and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). The guests also had a chance to interact with five Soldiers who greeted them at the holiday card tables.
The 64-member Army Ground Forces Band performs about 300 concerts a year at local, regional and national events. It also conducts master music classes and clinics at high schools and colleges around the country. The Soldiers assigned to the band have passed highly selective auditions and are among the finest musicians in the Army Band Program.
For information about the U.S. Army Forces Command's Army Ground Forces Band, visit www.forscom.army.mil/band/.