TRAVERSE CITY — Paul Koss recorded his song, “Veteran’s Day in Lawsonville,” five years after his father died.
Nearly 15 years later, the tune — dedicated to the memory of Francis M. Koss, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II — is his signature song and a favorite of area audiences. It tells the story of a Veterans Day parade in small-town America, back when it was fashionable to be patriotic and when soldiers who marched in parades and those who watched them were friends and neighbors.
It’s a time that has come around again, noted Koss, who will perform the song at a Nov. 10 concert at Sleder’s Family Tavern. The show — part of Sleder’s “On the Porch” concert series — is free to veterans and is a benefit for Operation Injured Soldiers. The Novi-based volunteer organization helps wounded veterans get back to participating in the sports and hobbies they enjoyed before being deployed.
Koss, 57, said he became acquainted with the group last summer, when a friend who runs a charter fishing business in South Haven asked him to help guide an outing for the organization. Funds raised provide free hunting, fishing, sporting, camping and other outdoor events to disabled vets to help with their physical and mental rehabilitation.
“The thing that struck me was how casually they spoke about their experiences and the events that injured them,” said Koss, a founding member of Northern Michigan Songwriters in the Round and a longtime area singer-songwriter who has opened for the likes of Bill Staines and Garnet Rogers. “It was just jaw-dropping.”
He said he wrote “Veteran’s Day in Lawsonville” in honor of the nation’s veterans back when few spoke about their experiences.
“The only stories dad would tell were the funny ones,” he said, adding that most of his father’s service in England, France, Germany and North Africa remains a mystery. “The most famous one is the day the (latrine) blew up.”