The Honor Team got its start back in 2001, just a few months after 9-11. That day, the student musicians that would become The Honor Team had the privilege of playing music for and speaking to several people who were present during the attacks that changed our country forever. Their stories were, in a word, life changing. It was an unprecedented opportunity to honor our nation’s veterans in the form of music, and the Honor Team was formed.
Current Honor Band Director, Greg Reed, shared his excitement for this unique form of ministry with us. “From speaking with our veterans, I began to realize a wonderful opportunity was taking place. We scheduled several more events at The National Medical Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army Hospital. We performed for returning Soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. We listened to their stories and desires to return to their units and join their brothers in arms as soon as they possibly could. Our young men and women who were in harm’s way had such devotion to those they left on the field and it showed in their countenance.”
The Enduring Freedom Honor Team consists of Fredericksburg Christian High School musicians who perform patriotic tunes and period music to honor our nation’s veterans. They dress in vintage World War II ensembles with authentic insignia, badges, and original visor caps. The vintage uniforms and period music strike an immediate chord with older veterans, and the students have many opportunities to listen to veterans’ stories.
The music draws even seriously wounded soldiers to the halls of the hospitals when the team plays.
During one event, the students had the unique opportunity to meet Bill, a World War II veteran, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Bill was a member of the 82nd airborne, and had jumped into Normandy on the evening of June 5, 1944. He was to receive a bronze star for bravery during the ceremony, all these years later. Suffering from dementia, Bill did not seem to be aware of his surroundings or the honor that he was receiving, except when the Honor Team was playing their 1940’s nostalgic selections. When the music started, Bill perked up with a huge, larger-than- life smile. He began singing every word of the songs they were playing. It was truly an unforgettable moment for everyone involved. Sometimes, the power of music can triumph over anything.
This is just one beautiful example of the impact that the Enduring Freedom Honor Team has in their community and beyond.
Greg Reed originally became a part of the Honor Team because he didn’t believe that just saying “thank you” to our servicemen was enough. “God gave us the gift of music and we found a way to show our gratitude for their sacrifices. Every time we perform we are moved by the reason we play. WWII, Korean, Vietnam and The Global War on Terrorism Veterans and their families are giving us, the Honor Team, an opportunity to say “Thank You.” And we would not miss this opportunity for the world.”
Mr. Reed also shared that the Honor Team has given his students an ability to grow and mature in a way that would be impossible inside a classroom.
“They really love what they’re doing with and for Veterans. We often stay after a performance to listen to the veterans. They tell us stories from their time in the military. And most often, they tell us the most meaning ful event in their lives was in the military. They describe it as if it was yesterday.”
Mr. Reed and the students have shared many a tearful moment with countless veterans of every age. “I wish our parents could see their children’s behavior and demeanor when interacting with veterans. We are proud of our young people as they show their gratefulness to Our Greatest Generation.”