U.S. Army Blues member, Staff Sgt. Michael Kramer performs at the Hispanic Heritage Month concert Sunday while playing the güiro, a Latin-American percussion instrument.

US Army Blues concert celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, Gold Star Families

Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Brucker Hall was full of Cuban, Venezuelan, jazz and other styles of music as guest artist César Orozco and others performed with the United States Army Blues during a Hispanic Heritage Month Concert Sunday.

Orozco was born in Cuba in 1980, and the songs performed at the concert were his original music. Orozco and his guest percussionists, Pablo Bencid and Fran Vielma performed with the band. They used Latin-American instruments such as the güiro and the conga — percussion instruments. During the concert Latin-American songs had the attendees tapping their feet or clapping their hands before giving Orozco a standing ovation. Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Landrum was among those who attended the concert.

Landrum was the director of the concert. He said the performance was about commemorating and celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

“The nation and the Army commemorate and celebrate the contribution of Hispanic Americans to the nation,” Landrum said. “To the 20,000 Hispanic Soldiers who fought both sides in the Civil War … to the incredible Soldier musicians of Hispanic heritage you see on stage before you today, are woven indebtedly into the beautiful fabric of our nation and our Army.”

The concert was also an invitation for Gold Star Family members to attend.

A Gold Star Family is a Family where his or her Family member was killed in combat. This Family receives a Gold Star lapel pin. It is a pin with a purple circular background that is presented to widows, widowers, parents and next of kin of United States Armed Forces members killed in combat operations.

The next of kin lapel pin is a gold star on a gold background presented to the immediate Family of United States Armed Forces members who died in service outside of a combat operation — like the effects of Vietnam War’s Agent Orange.

Kristi Pappas, the JBM-HH Survivor Outreach Support Services coordinator, said the purpose of having Gold Star Families attend a concert like Sunday’s is the healing properties of music.

She also chose this concert as an invitation for Gold Star Families because the last Sunday in September has been called Gold Star Mother’s Day since 1936. On this day, the United States president will call on all Americans to display the nation’s flag and hold public events to express their love, sorrow and reverence toward Gold Star mothers and their Families. This day is now called Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.

Pentagram Staff Writer Katrina Wilson can be reached at kmoses@dcmilitary.com.