It's been awhile since we heard from Sergeant First Class Timothy L. Tilley of the United States Army who has been a regular contributor to "Fanfare." We last heard from Sgt. Tilley in "The Reason to March," (January 21, 2005). Before that, we contributed "Drum Corps, Freedom and Sacrifice," (July 2, 2004), "Clapping and Screaming for Freedom," (November 7, 2003) and "Beating a Cadence of Strength," (November 15, 2002). That earliest column remains one of the most amazing discourses on drum corps I've ever read. Check them all out. You'll be as astounded as I was with how he brings things in to perspective. -Michael Boo
It's been so long since the last "Military Beat," but I've been busy—we all are—and I'm preparing for my "age-out" year in my own organization, the United States Cavalry. We are off to the desert to do our thing, a mission ... a contribution, whatever it may be called...that has seen its share of criticism over the past few years, especially when it got hard and people didn't come home, it got difficult. This reminds me much of "our" activity and has, like so many times before, made me consider the parallel universes in which the drum corps activity and the military exist. In light of my "age-out," I've been contemplating the similarities of both. 1. The members of both organizations made a commitment to join and to be the best that they could. That is both as a single individual standing in the ranks, sometimes very anonymous, and sometimes singularly important to the success of the mission through the achievement of their respective organizations. 2. They, the members, were recruited, interviewed, screened, auditioned and trained. Trained for their ultimate performance; to leave home and family behind, perform their portion of a greater-than-life mission, achieve success with no losses, injuries or accidents, and return home triumphant having achieved something that only a select group can do. 3. They do things that some consider extremely controversial. Not everyone agrees with the missions, the sacrifices, the public voicing of subjects that are not easily talked about and problems that are hard to solve. Yet, they are back training every single day to do what they committed to do in rain or shine, heat or cold, no matter what the conditions. They get the job done. 4. The members of the organizations sometimes look around at other organizations and think, "Man, wouldn't my life be less controversial, less painful, less problematic if I'd just joined that group over there in blue, or that group over there in red?" But they made a choice and they stuck to their "guns" and they are not willing to give up on what they committed to, what their fellow members committed to, or the thoughts and ideas that drive them to success. They know that in 20 or 30 years they will look back on their experiences and be proud of their success. Their organization may not win, but did they contribute? Every single one of them can answer with a resounding "yes," that they most certainly did! 5. They are led by men and women who work longer hours than others, make tough decisions, stand by their decisions under monumental criticism, manage budgets that by the laws of math should never work, worry about the morale, welfare and health of their members and are committed to leading from the front, good or bad. These leaders don't get paid enough and they rarely if ever get any recognition for what they do, but they are the ones who've stuck by their organizations through thick and thin. They are the ones who get the calls at 3 a.m. and have to handle the crises of the group. When it is all said and done, it is about the members of each organization: the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines as well as the 'Coats, Glassmen, Spartans and Cadets that make what we do so very special. I hope that there can be a common sense of support, admiration and bottom line respect for what each individual member adds to their activity. You may not agree with what is being said, or how it is being done, but don't forget the million gallons of sweat that has rolled off the brows of the countless members and their commitment to their activity. Timothy L. Tilley Sergeant First Class, United States Army Sgt. Tilley has just been shipped back to the Iraq War theater. He'd love to hear from any drum corps fans to help pass the time. His e-mail address is

Editorial assistance by Michael Boo. Fanfare archives