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Band Hits Mark in Spite of Rain

 

 
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(This article appeared in the March 17, 2000 issue of the Observation Post, the base newspaper for Twentynine Palms, California.)


1srLt Jason D. Grose
7th Marines Adjutant

Last Wednesday, my wife and I attended the Battle Colors Ceremony performed by the Marines from Eighth and I. It had been many years since we had seen them, and we looked forward to seeing the spectacular event.
Scanning the crowd, I saw Marines, retirees, and even school children anxiously awaiting the beginning of the show. Finally spotting my wife, I walked toward her, and, as many Marines often experience in similar circumstances, I practically had to bump into her for her to see me in the crowd of cammies. Not even a glint of recognition filled her eyes until I reached out and grabbed her arm.

Joining her was a friend, Suzette, who was new to the Marine Corps family and had recently moved here to be near "her Marine." Other than on television, she had never seen the show she was about see. I knew this was going to be a memorable event for her and looked forward to her reactions to the world-famous exhibition.

Her first exposure to the way Marines do things was evident when we approached two lines of uniformed Marines designated as ushers for the event. "Ma'am, if you will allow me to escort you to your seat," was the young Marine's greeting as he offered his bended arm. To Marines, this is standard practice but to someone new to our lifestyle, this treatment was as unexpected as it is now embedded in her memory forever.

As she looked on in amazement, the Drum and Bugle Corps took the field and played in incredible fashion. Song after song, this collection of red-clad musicians played, marched, and presented their music to the crowd.

Then the most amazing thing happened. The threatening weather finally broke and rain fell from the skies. Feeling lucky that I was under the canopy, I looked at the continuing performance with new eyes. Despite the cold, driving rain, the band played on. Seemingly to spite the weather, the buglers belted out their tunes with renewed vigor. The drummers beat their drums defiantly and never missed a beat. They were wet and likely miserable but they still "attacked their mission" like Marines have done for centuries.

Near the end of the performance, the formation marched away from us and formed online. A power was building, and as the last of the performers came on line to the rising music, there came a dramatic pause as the crowd held its breath and the band performed an about-face. With raw spirit, they all hit the notes of the famous Stars and Stripes march as they held their instruments high and strutted in unison toward the crowd. If anyone's skin did not explode with goosebumps at that moment, they were either deaf or lacked a soul.

Looking over to see Suzette's reaction, all she could say was simply "That is the most incredible thing I have ever seen." Once again, the Commandant's Own left a mark in someone's life.

The lesson I think I took from this event was that despite the ribbing the Marine Band gets from "combat Marines," I would challenge anyone to compare the level of quality when performing their day-to-day duties with that of the band. I think this is something we can all strive for.


Email -- jdgrose115@polyglut.net
Web -- http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

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