05/28/10 — Using songs to thank those who have served their nation

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Using songs to thank those who have served their nation

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 28, 2010 1:46 PM

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Holly Jones, a senior at Rosewood High School, has dreams of being a young country star one day. She will be singing during Monday's Memorial Day Service at Wayne Community College.

Holly Jones used to be the little girl in the back seat of the family car -- singing nearly all the way from her Eastern North Carolina hometown to the destination in Virginia they frequented.

And these days, on any given night, you will likely find her at whichever karaoke bar is open, enjoying the sense of freedom she feels every time she makes it through a song.

But on the days when Americans are asked to pause and to recognize those who wear the country's uniform -- Veterans Day and Memorial Day, in particular -- she puts her pursuit of a career in Nashville on hold, lending her talent and passion to those who have sacrificed for the liberty she covets.

The 18-year-old is one of the hundreds of people local veterans hope to see Monday morning at the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition's annual Memorial Day program.

And Holly would be the first to tell you just how much it means to show up and support those who have -- and still -- serve.

"When I first did it (six years ago), I thought there was going to be more people out there," she said. "I figured it would be packed."

Particularly in Wayne, a county known for patriotism on and around Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

"I kept thinking, 'There should be more people supporting it,'" Holly said. "Hopefully, this year they will."

Her set list will include each of the branches' songs -- simple lyrics that have evoked cheers, applause and tears throughout the years.

"I have to reprint the lyrics every time and relearn them," Holly said. "But it doesn't take more than an hour to have them fresh in my brain."

She hopes this year's performance will be uplifting to those in attendance.

But more than anything, she hopes it will represent another step on her journey toward a career as a singer/songwriter.

"I want to be a country singer. I like Taylor Swift because she writes her own songs," she said. "I think if I started it as a career, I could get to her level. I hope."

And if those veterans -- many of whom have become like family to her over the years -- have anything to say about it, her service to their many causes since she was 13 will pay off in the end.

"She's just such a sweet girl and a great singer," retired Marine and current Coalition member Bill Carr said. "She has done so much for us over the years, so anything we can do to help her, we're going to do."