Rock the Pamlico hosts Veterans Day concert

Published 8:20 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

“How’d you like to have the stage on Veterans Day and raise money?”

It’s the question posed to Rock the Pamlico organizer Jack Willard by Debra Torrence, executive director of Arts of the Pamlico, a few months ago. Willard jumped at the offer — the Turnage Theatre stage is the ideal venue for this ad hoc group of rockers that jams out twice a month in the theater’s lobby — and started building a show to honor veterans.

“Honor Our Veterans” is slated for Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the historic downtown Washington theater.

Starting with the barbershop chorus Carolina Chord Connection, the show features Rock the Pamlico regulars and special guests, including country singer/songwriter Jimmy Lovelace and the Steve Creech Jazz All Stars. The $10 cover charge will go directly to the Beaufort County Disabled American Veterans.

The result may be a rocking show, but for the DAV, it’s a way to boost awareness of what the organization does, according to Juanita White, commander of DAV Chapter 28.

“Our goal is to give awareness to the DAV and what we do for the veterans in our community and surrounding areas,” White said. “I’m going to talk about what it is and what we’re trying to do here in the county.”

Organizers have enlisted the help of several other organizations for Saturday’s event: Washington High School JROTC, Bath Boy Scout Troop No. 258, the DAV Auxiliary and Auxiliary Juniors, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and the Fleet Reserve Association of Pitt County.

Willard said holding a concert to honor, and raise money to support, veterans is a first for Beaufort County. His involvement with Jammin’ for the Vets, a performance held the past two years to raise money to support the local VFW, as well as family connections, spurred him to coordinate the Veterans Day show: a father-in-law who served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force and an uncle, Guy Willard, who spent the remainder of his life in a VA hospital in Durham after coming home from World War I diagnosed with “shell shock,” now classified as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I didn’t know what shell shock meant. The only time I ever saw him, I was 5 years old.” Willard said, recalling a visit to the VA hospital. “That was my only memory of him. … Those two men have inspired me to get to this event.”

In addition to the music, at 3 p.m. veterans will be recognized and drawings will be held.

“We’ve had downtown merchants make very generous donations of things for the raffle. We’re very appreciative of what downtown Washington does,” Willard said.

Admission is free for veterans and volunteers will be on hand to assist anyone who needs help getting into the theater, according to White.

The Turnage Theatre is located at 150 W. Main St., Washington.