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Free concert in Alexandria features original tribute to Pearl Harbor hero

U.S. Navy Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris Miller (image via National Archives)

A free concert later this month features a new composition from a local professor honoring the first Black recipient of the Navy Cross.

The Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Alexandria Band is scheduled to hold a free concert on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. in The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall (4915 East Campus Drive). The main feature of the new concert is a new work by composer and George Mason University instructor Mark Camphouse called “Valor and Remembrance.” The composition honors U.S. Navy Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris Miller.

Miller was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism aboard the USS West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Miller, who worked in the ship’s mess, manned an anti-aircraft gun on the top deck of the ship during the attack and — with a weapon he’s been trained on using only moments prior — shot down two Japanese airplanes attacking the ship.

“We are thrilled that composer Mark Camphouse will be joining us for the premiere of his newest work,” Lisa Eckstein, associate professor of music and band director, said in a release. “This is the final piece of his trilogy which celebrates the courageous contributions of African Americans. The other two compositions honor Civil Rights Heroine Rosa Parks and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”