Every several months, I receive a submission from Sgt. 1st Class Timothy L. Tilley of the United States Army. I really look forward to hearing from Tilley, as he never fails to remind me about some important things that I should never forget. We last heard from Tilley upon his return to U.S. soil from his service in Korea, just in time for Veterans Day. ("Clapping and Screaming for Freedom," Fanfare: November 7, 2003.). Each time I share the thoughts of Tilley, I also take the opportunity to promote an organization of that richly deserves our support, Bugles Across America. If you are a bugle and/or trumpet player, please go to buglesacrossamerica.org and sign up to be available to perform "Taps" at the funeral of a veteran. There is a critical shortage of available bugle players for military funerals, forcing the military to use recordings of "Taps" and digital bugles that are only for show. I suspect there are many among you that provide this sort of valuable service to the families of veterans. I also suspect that performing such a service would make you feel really good. And now, just in time for Independence Day, 2004, here are the latest thoughts on drum corps, freedom and sacrifice from Tilley. Mike, Over the past several months, I have been overwhelmed with the duties and responsibilities of being a casualty affairs officer for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment during the unit's deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our unit has lost over four dozen soldiers in the fight in Iraq. I was fortunate, if sometimes with a little bit of a guilty feeling, to have stayed in the United States while the unit was deployed. While I certainly experienced a better quality of life and better living conditions than those soldiers who were in Iraq, I remain in awe of the tragedy that has been experienced by the fellow soldiers, the family members, and some concerned citizens of our great nation with every death and injury that occurred. This duty, while seemingly far removed from what a musician's life entails, drew me back to music as a source of guidance and strength. As the 3rd Armored Cavalry is indeed a cavalry unit, it was not hard to think of the music and lineage of the 11th Cavalry, the Troopers, and how we as fans of our great activity have been blessed with fiery renditions of patriotic and truly American music that have come from the Troopers. It reminds us of the strength and power we have been bestowed by simply having been born in this great nation. "Amazing Grace," as played by both Phantom Regiment and my alma mater, Spirit of Atlanta, brought me peace and inner strength. It is truly an amazing show of grace and passion that the fighting men and women of this country have demonstrated while liberating those who have never experienced true freedom. But something touched me more than any musical selection or fond remembrance of a patriotic celebration by a corps. My friends and acquaintances in drum corps, winter guard and the marching pageantry worlds were able to identify with the struggles and hardships that all soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have experienced over the past few years in the aftermath of September 11th. I am convinced that the experiences we all went through as members or staffers or volunteers gives us a better perspective on sacrifice and commitment, freedom and prosperity. It seems that with the average drum corps buddy conversation always turns to, "So, what have you been up to lately?" My answer to that question always brings on a sense of sadness, and often, moments of uneasy silence. But in the end, it has been the character of the drum corps fan or member, volunteer or teacher that has come through. Every time there is a request to pass on sincere and true feelings of condolence to the families and soldiers who have endured this experience known as war. What amazes me is that I then venture back out into society and I observe the waving of the flag and the cursing of the country, all at the same time. I quite often get "the look" when I find myself in public proudly wearing my uniform, all the while knowing that it is the freedom that I am willing to die for that makes every worshiper, traveler, worker and citizen able to do what they do with the freedoms they have. We have a responsibility ... we members of a time-honored tradition, steeped in heritage and ceremony that is known as the U.S. military AND the drum and bugle corps activity. Thank the soldier you encounter on the street. Remember that the marine or sailor you meet in the coffee shop didn't have a choice to be there but they went anyway and fought the tough fight for us. Remember the airman who risked his life and flew into the night in order to come back to a free and prosperous nation. Above all, remember the words of our 16th president that are immortalized in "Lincoln Portrait." (Thank you, Boston Crusaders, for pulling our heartstrings with your rendition of that piece in Orlando.) While standing on the battlegrounds of Gettysburg, President Lincoln said the following: "From these honored dead we take increased devotion, to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, and that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THE EARTH." Sgt. 1st Class Timothy L. Tilley, United States Army, is the casualty affairs officer for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo. He is a former member of Spirit of Atlanta and a current member of the Rocky Mountain Color Guard Association, serving as a member of the judges panel. Sgt.Tilley welcomes your comments at timothy.tilley@us.army.mil. 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 master's 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.