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Tosa West band preparing for patriotic concert "larger than ourselves"

Some of the music you'll recognize instantly. Other pieces aren't as familiar. But what matters most to Guy Kammerer is how his students' upcoming performance makes you feel.

\"Unabashedly patriotic,\" Kammerer said.

That should come easily during Wauwatosa West's band concert Tuesday night. Called \"American Heroes\", the entire show pays tribute to U.S. Veterans, especially those who fought in World War II -- a first-of-its-kind thematic show for Kammerer after 28 years holding the baton.

\"These people have paid a price for the freedoms that we enjoy and it's important that we recognize that,\" Kammerer said.

Getting his students to fully comprehend that sentiment took a major field trip. After practicing the music for several months, Tosa West band students flew to Hawaii in April. The students visited and performed at the Pearl Harbor Memorial.

\"They stood there and thought, 'Well, the planes flew over here and they're dropping bombs here and now we're standing right where 1,200 people are entombed right below our feet,'\" Kammerer said. \"That registered with them.\"

\"A lot of people didn't understand how meaningful it would be until we got there,\" senior Rachael Reis said. \"I think when we got it there it kind of took on a whole new meaning.\"

But the band wanted this concert to mean even more. Students will present the local VFW post with the flag that flew over their Pearl Harbor performance and guests will be asked to donate items at the door for homeless veterans. The show's penultimate piece, \"Armed Forces Salute\" will pay tribute to each branch of the military. The show will also feature video clips from World War II.

\"It's bigger than us and this is something that a lot of people that have served our country can come to and really be appreciated for what they've done,\" senior Charlie Koepp said.

\"Many of our concerts are very special here, but this one is probably, in terms of being able to affect others outside of our own, smaller group, it's going to always be very special,\" Kammerer said.

Tuesday's show begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Wauwatosa West High School auditorium. Tickets can be purchased for $4 at the door, students get in for $2 and veterans get in free.

Toiletries and gently-used clothes will be accepted and donated to homeless veterans groups in the area.

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