Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — Fairfield High School hosted a Veterans Day program in its auditorium Friday morning.
The event featured performances by the FHS band and choir, with the choir singing the National Anthem and the band performing all the songs of the five traditional branches of the U.S. military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.
Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Jim Salts was the master of ceremonies, and introduced that day’s featured speaker, Staff Sgt. Jason Glass, a 1994 graduate of FHS and member of the 34th Army Band for the past 28 years.
Glass said that because of his role with the band, he is often wearing his military uniform in public, and receives much gratitude from the public. He said that every “thank you for your service” is appreciated.
The FHS alum encouraged Friday’s auditorium of spectators to go one step further than just thanking a veteran, but to really get to know them. He said that asking a veteran about their experiences, branch of service, and specialty will usually result in a story. He mentioned that fellow 34th Army Band member Jeff Six, who is close to completing 40 years in the band, is a great storyteller.
Glass said that veterans are disproportionately affected by problems such as homelessness and suicide, so they are especially in need of personal connections. When they were in the service, they could overcome any challenge because they had a secret weapon: each other. The bonds built through military service and shared hardship bring people together like nothing else, Glass said. Glass inspired the audience to find their own “secret weapon” by building connections with veterans in their community.
“Let’s do it for them and for us,” he said.
Glass joined the 34th Army Band when he was just 17 years old. He said he hadn’t thought about joining the Army National Guard earlier in high school, and assumed he would go straight to college after his graduation. However, he got to know members of the 34th Army Band since it is based in Fairfield, and especially because its commander, Ron Prill, was also his high school band director. After giving it more thought and realizing the college benefits he could get, he decided to try out for the 34th Army Band.
“Several of my parents’ friends were in the 34th Army Band,” Glass said. “I thought it was a great way to serve with a lot of benefits. As a 17-year-old, I had to get my parents to sign as well.”
Glass said he has never been deployed during his tenure with the National Guard, but he’s always aware that the call could come any day.
“You know going in that that’s what you’re signing up for, that you could go into a combat situation,” he said.
Glass lives in Iowa City, where he teaches at the Tippie College of Business in the University of Iowa. Before embarking on a teaching career three years ago, he worked in human resources for 20 years, seven of which at the executive level. Glass returns to Fairfield for his duties with the 34th Army Band, and travels with it around the state for dozens of performances.
“I’ve had the opportunity to play in front of a lot of parades and large crowds,” he said. “Marching down the street, playing a patriotic march and seeing people waving flags, never gets old. We’ve very fortunate to have people in the band who have served a long time. They’re like a second family, and my best memories are time spent with them making music, which is a pretty cool way to serve your country.”
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at email@example.com