Drum Corps International
Clapping and screaming for freedom

Clapping and screaming for freedom

by Drum Corps International

Last year for Veterans' Day, I was proud to be able to share "Beating a Cadence of Strength," a powerful submission by Sergeant First Class Timothy L. Tilley of the United States Army. (That particular Fanfare from a year ago is reprinted at the bottom. It remains one of the most amazing discourses on drum corps I've ever read.) Today, I am pleased to be able to share a follow-up from Sgt. Tilley, who is back on U.S. soil after serving in Korea. I'd be remiss if the opportunity wasn't seized to once again promote an organization of phenomenal worthiness, Bugles Across America. If you are a bugle and/or trumpet player, please, please, please go on their Web site and sign up to be available to perform "Taps" at the funeral of a veteran. There is still a critical shortage of bugle players for military funerals, forcing the military to use boom box recordings and digital bugles for "Taps." There have got to be lots of potential "Taps" players among DCI alumni and fans. And now, just in time for Veterans' Day, 2004, here are the latest thoughts on freedom and drum corps from Sgt. Tilley. Mr. Boo, Here I sit again doing the same thing that I've done for each of the last 12 years about this time of year -- listening. Drum corps has a special place in my heart as it does for thousands of others. Carpenters, lawyers, policemen, musicians -- everywhere you look, you are bound to see someone who has been either directly or indirectly effected by drum and bugle corps and DCI. Actually, I think it to be much more fair to say that every free person in this country can thank drum and bugle corps for a portion of their freedom. Sound "out there" or a little hard to believe? Consider this. Every year, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines from every background, state, and ethnicity -- every sex and religion, pack their duffle bags and deploy to unknown lands in defense of our American Freedom. It is capitalized because it is correct to recognize it as a proper noun, not a generic word -- but rather something special that we have in our great nation. How many of those men and women can owe their start to a drum corps? Probably not as many as we'd like, knowing the talent level, discipline and devotion that is instilled in young men and women participating in drum corps. But look at the big picture and you will see the connection that I do. We as America's fighting force don't fight for the ideals of the nation or for freedom, we fight for the soldier next to us -- that man or woman that will in turn keep us alive. We fight for that pilot in the Harrier that we have come to know as "brother." We fight for that sailor beside us on the flight deck that is willing to step in front of us to protect us from harm's way. We fight for mom and dad, apple pie and baseball, and we fight for what happens on football fields on Friday nights from August through November and every night in the summer. We fight for the freedom for 20,000 people to stand in unison at precisely the right time, at precisely the right place, for precisely the right "moment" during a drum corps show and scream for those goosebumps they just received. We are willing to give our lives for the ability to gather thousands of corps members on a field at the end of an epic battle between champions and hear the strains of "God bless America, land that I love." Last year, the 2002 DCI World Championships show fell on my ears in a country that has been in turmoil for most of its existence and especially in the public eye -- for the last 50 years after the invasion of the North Korean Peoples' Army. I finished my tour there after having been visited by my wife for a week and after we took the opportunity to travel to parts not touched by Western culture. We remarked at how lucky we are to have so much in America, and how willing we were to support our country and its ideals to ensure that freedom continues to be the operative word in all Americans' lives. Now, I have returned to the United States and call Fort Carson, Colo., home. One of the many landmarks that we agreed needed immediate visitation by our family was Pikes Peak. As we traveled up the mountain, we stopped and read many of the historical markers and placards that are located on the Pikes Peak highway. The one that caught my attention the most was a detail of Katherine Lee Bates' historic visit to the peak, and how she was inspired to write the words for the Samuel Ward music that DCI uses to symbolize freedom and America, "America the Beautiful." Ms. Bates had the guts to put her true feelings on paper about her beloved country after having seen it from the vantage point of a breathtaking mountain. Every day our protectors have the guts to put their lives on the line as a tribute to the simple things that motivate us to protect and preserve freedom. Every summer members of countless corps have the guts to put their heart and soul on the line for something that they love and each summer night that they offer up their wares to audiences, those same audiences have the gratitude and thoughtfulness to put their hands together after being awed and amazed not by marching and horns and flags and drums -- they are clapping and screaming for freedom. Every step that a corps member takes, every toss that a guard member makes, and every beat that a drummer drums stands as a reminder of the very freedom that allows us to enjoy "our" activity, America's celebration, that is drum and bugle corps. I see the connection, do you? Sgt. Timothy L. Tilley
3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
United States Army
Fort Carson, Colo. Spirit of Atlanta member, 1988
Spirit of Atlanta support staff, 1993-1994
Carolina Crown visual staff, 1995-1997 Here is the column that ran last Novemeber:

Beating a Cadence of Strength I am so grateful for any and all e-mail I receive from the readers of this column. But one came in just this past weekend, leading into Veterans' Day, which just about knocked me on the floor. It was not sent in response to any particular solicitation to the readers regarding a particular topic. But, it summarized everything I could ever hope to convey about the activity we know as drum corps.
   
To be honest, I had a little difficulty reading it through my tears. I hope I have always been as proud as possible for this activity and for the men and women who serve our country. After this contribution, I'm not sure I'll look at either the activity or those serving the cause of liberty in quite the same way.
   
As we approach a new year of hope and dreams, may we resolve to never take for granted that with which we have been so amply blessed -- a wonderful activity, an honorable country, and all those within the activity and the armed services who work to keep both alive and thriving. And here is where many of you can play a role. During the Veterans' Day weekend, many of us saw news clips about the digital bugle now being employed at funerals of veterans, due to the lack of available buglers. This shortage is felt across the country, as all veterans are eligible for a military funeral. To counteract the situation, the Pentagon has approved the use of the digital bugle, which is held like a traditional bugle, but contains within its bell a speaker and sound chip that plays "Taps" at the push of a button. My friends, although this development is better than nothing, (and is certainly preferable to the boom boxes that have been used for "Taps" at many veterans' funerals), it is still a shame. However, there is something we can do about it. Please go to the Bugles Across America Web site and check out what some drum corps people are doing to try to remedy this situation. The organization for which the Web site is named was formed less than two years ago by Tom Day, a former Marine, a former marching member of the Cavaliers, and the co-founder of the Anaheim Kingsmen. Tom would love to recruit both alumni and current performers of all corps to volunteer for this noble cause. Several DCI corps alumni and current members are already registered with this Web site. Ideally, anyone who can play a trumpet or soprano bugle would be registered. You never know if the family to whom you could give comfort in the future are neighbors or friends. With typical drum corps heart, these buglers are playing final honors for veterans, as well as commemorative events of all types. Bugles Across America has already registered 1,400 buglers and, in its first 18 months, has provided military honors for 6,000 veterans' funerals. If you can do this, it would likely be for the sake of someone you probably don't know, and for the love of your country and the pride you have in being part of the drum corps community. But if you still need some additional motivation to stir the your heart to take the plunge, read the following. Then see if you are still sitting on the edge by the time you get to the end. Without further comment, here are the words of Sgt. Timothy L. Tilley, United States Army. He is presently stationed with Delta Troop, 4th Squadron -- 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, at Camp Stanton in the Republic of Korea.
Michael, I believe that my involvement with Spirit of Atlanta and other corps as a staff member has made me the soldier and husband, father and servant that I am today. It struck me the other day as I listened to the 2002 DCI top 21 CDs for the first time that I have listened to a lot of drum corps for a lot of reasons, in quite a few places around the world. I wanted to share this with you in hopes that you could share it through your column -- just another person's way of explaining the fire the burns within the drum corps fan's heart for the activity and the love that we all share for it. Listening. I have listened to drum corps as a student, a young man trying to find what music was all about in my band room, watching the 1983 finals and sitting in a simple state of awe, transfixed by what was happening on the screen in front of me and a band director with a grin on his face. I guess he was thinking that he had indeed snared another fan for the drum corps fantasy. I watched the show from my seventh row seat in Atlanta, and thought that I was ready to go to heaven. How could it get any better? I didn't sleep that night -- the memories of the power and glory that is corps kept me from slowing down for what must have been a month. I said while leaving the stadium, "I will march with that corps." I played the first time with a corps, in the arc, and I cried from the feeling that I had -- not a bad feeling, but a happy, transformed feeling that I had been musically reborn. I marched my first show in New York and felt like I had really accomplished one of the greatest feats of my life -- marching with a drum corps. I listened to my cassette of my corps crouched beside my bunk at Army basic training, thinking, "Why are all these people complaining, why is he crying, why is he homesick? THIS IS ONLY 8 WEEKS, I MARCHED AN ENTIRE SUMMER WORKING HARDER THAN THIS!" I listened from my barracks room in Germany and found that with those headphones on, I was transported right back home to a place that made me not miss mom and dad so much. I could remember my dad standing in the tunnel of the Iron Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., as I marched off the field. I grew about two inches instantly just knowing that he saw me there. I listened to a patriotic show in a foxhole on the first day of the ground war in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm. I felt like a real American. I don't need to tell you what was one of the top items on the list that I was willing to fight and die for, do I? I defended freedom and did it thinking that I was helping another young man or woman fulfill their dream of marching in a drum corps. I fought for our activity. I fought for the opportunity of every kid in school to pick up a horn and play, to participate in the same amazing activity that had shown me what working hard and doing the right thing was. I listen and watch, now from my barracks, again, 8 kilometers from the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea. I hear strains of freedom and America in the music that our best and brightest youth create on football fields across the country every summer. I hear opportunity at every level of musicianship for another kid to have the chance that I did to march. I feel honored to have been a part of the activity, but what makes me especially happy is that when I go to work I can honor drum corps by applying the very same principles, work ethic, and accomplishment that I learned was possible in drum corps to my job as a soldier. I hear commitment. I hear devotion. I hear a nation's freedom beating a cadence of strength in a time where strength and freedom are in question all over the globe. Do you hear it? Sgt. Timothy L. Tilley, United States Army
Delta Troop, 4th Squadron -- 7th Cavalry Regiment
2nd Infantry Division, Republic of Korea Spirit of Atlanta member, 1988
Spirit of Atlanta support staff, 1993-1994
Carolina Crown visual staff, 1995-1997 Fanfare archives Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.

He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a masters degree in music theory and composition.
   
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.

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