President-Elect Rosemarie Rowney rang the Rotary bell today, and the packed dining room resounded with a spirited “Star-Spangled Banner.” At its conclusion Past President Karen Kerry advanced to the podium to deliver the Inspiration. And it would be a special one. “”Inspiration often comes to us from a painting,sometimes a song, a pastor, or a leader. But sometimes that person sits in our midst. For me, that person is Art Holst. Art will recite a poem for this Memorial Day celebration, and remind us in the process that ‘Freedom is not Free.’ As we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice — Art Holst.”
Art took the microphone from Karen and simply addressed his audience from his table. “This poem was written by Cmdr. Kelly Strong in memory of his father, a marine, who served in Vietnam,” Art began. What happened next could only have emanated from our beloved fellow-Rotarian: Third Army veteran, poet, renowned speaker, and oracle for all things that spotlight American sacrifice. “The poem is titled ‘Freedom is not Free’…
“I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze;
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease…
I thought…how many men like him had fallen
through the years? How many died on foreign
soil? How many mothers’ tears?…
How many pilots’ planes shot down,
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, Freedom is not Free…”
Thunderous applause erupted through the room. Art continued: “I want to get personal for a moment. I remember Kemp, one of my dearest friends. He died in Belgium in 1944.” Art recalled also another friend killed in action “He was going to be a doctor when he got home.” Moved almost beyond endurance, Art’s listeners rose spontaneously when they heard him say, “I’m 96 years old.” A man of warmth, a participant in a crucial part of our history, Art Holst provides a much-needed sense of historical perspective. Continuity. Thank you, Art, from all of us!
Next, Downs Herald made us participants in song. “In the Good Old Summer Time,” followed by “When You’re Smiling.” For “Summer Time,” Downs pointed out that he had rewritten a few words “for P.C. purposes.” For example: “Strolling thro’ the shady lane/With your partner thine/You request contact, and they agree/And that’s a very good sign/That they’re your P.C. Partner/In the good old summer time.”
Rosemarie returned and informed us that she was acting President today “because John’s mother was ill, and he went out to Washington to be with her. She is better now, however, and he’ll be returning soon.” Rosemarie also informed us that Brooks Sitterley is in the hospital. “Please remember him in your prayers,” Rosemarie urged. She then introduced Spanky Leonard, “who will be our District Governor. He’s visiting us from Chatham, Ontario.”
A wonderful moment occurred when Rosemarie announced that Rotary International’s Major Donor Award has been bestowed on John and Betsy Hammond. “Thank you, John and Betsy,” Rosemarie said as she went to the Hammond’s table to present the award.
Mary Jean Raab came to the podium to recognize our Junior Rotarians. She spoke also for Laura Thomas when she declared, “This is our last set of students to honor this year, and the person who will be making the introductions is Meghan Gupta, who was a Junior Rotarian last year. She is a student at Yale now, and her mother, Toni, is a member of our Club.”
Meghan began, “Hello everybody. My name is Meghan Gupta and I’m happy to be with you today.” She then introduced this year’s three Junior Rotarians:
- Sophie Janevic
- Zane Souweidan
- Fardosu Yasin
Mary Jean then added: “I hope you’ll all consider joining Rotaract and will attend Rotary meetings — and come back here whenever you would like.”
John Simpkins then gave us an update on Golf & Tennis: “It is, as you know, our biggest annual event, which allows us to do so much during the year. We [the GTO Committee] anticipate selling out again this year. Brochures are on your tables — I don’t want to see any of them lying there at meeting’s end! So, keep the GTO in mind, and please consider volunteering again and donating items for the auctions.”
“Let’s go all out for the Golf & Tennis Outing,” Rosemarie urged. “Now, let’s go out for Tiny Houses. We need to clear another lot before construction can begin. June 2nd will provide the second opportunity to volunteer [for Tiny Houses].”
ALL THAT JAZZ
Tom Millard then introduced Huron High School Jazz Band music director, Robert Ash: “Thank you, President-Elect Rosemarie. Returning is the GRAMMY award-winning Huron High School Jazz Band. Robert Ash is an alumnus of Central Michigan University, where he studied music theory, composition, and the saxophone. Mr. Ash received his master’s degree in music composition from The Florida State University. Ladies and gentlemen, Robert Ash and the Huron Jazz Band!”
The incredible concert began with Charles Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song,” released on album, “The Clown,” in 1957. It sounded smooth, like the score of a great noir film, gradually reaching its crescendo with the saxophones and trumpets. Outstanding were the performances of the sax, trombone, trumpet, bass, piano, and drums soloists. This would be a hallmark of the whole concert — Mr. Ash is remarkably adept at showcasing the talents of his leading musicians. There’s room for all, and all contribute mightily to the outcome. Along with a wonderful pianist, the orchestra would provide fabulous renditions of U-M professor Helen Roe’s “State Line Strut,” which was reminiscent of Benny Goodman’s sound of the late 1930s. Perhaps most impressive of Huron’s impressive set was Duke Ellington’s “Othello” overture from his “Such Sweet Thunder” album of 1957, a tribute to the works of Shakespeare. The concert concluded with a funk tune, “Hey, What You Dealing With?” which Ash declared “the best funk title ever!”
Bravo, Huron Jazz Band, for an unforgettable concert.
Rosemarie adjourned the meeting by reminding us of JET: “Join leaders, Exchange ideas, Take action.”
(Photos by Fred Beutler.)
ADMINISTRATOR’S NOTE (by John White and Dave Williams)
At our 4thWebers meeting we counted 84 Ann Arbor Rotarians. Joining us were 8 official guests, 24 members and one conductor with the Huron High jazz band, 3 Pioneer High Junior Rotarians with their counselor and introducer, 4 band parents and the big brother of the trombone player. Also enjoying the day were two visiting Rotarians: Don “Sparky” Leonard from Chatham, Ontario, and B. Yawson from Ann Arbor North.
Before lunch 4 members met as an International Projects subcommittee.