The following are two contributions, each received this week, that remind us that drum corps -- more than anything -- is made up of real people who come into our lives and sometimes tragically leave far too early. Both stories remind us that we need to embrace the people we love in drum corps, because you just never know. Patrick Seidling is the director of Phantom Regiment. He contributed the following remembrances. This Sunday marks the fourth anniversary of the infamous events of Sept. 11, 2001. With fresh --and equally terrible -- images from the wake of Hurricane Katrina beamed at us daily, we are again reminded of how important family and friends are in our lives. The drum corps family is a close-knit one. Hey, we don't actually have to all know each other, just put on that drum corps T-shirt and walk through a mall, or drive across town with a drum corps bumper sticker on the back of your car and one quickly realizes how fast and enthusiastic drum corps fans can come together! Hurricane Katrina saw us -- once again -- making those calls and e-mails to see if our drum corps family members were safe. I bet many of us reconnected with friends that we haven't spoken to in years. And I bet that, after being assured they were safe, we picked up right where we left off all those years ago. It's not really clear how many of the 9/11 victims where part of our drum corps family. But I do know of one, and today I feel compelled to take a moment and remember him. John Hart marched drum corps for only a brief time, and only when he was rather young, and then only in a corps that most of us may not recall much about. But he was part of the drum corps family, no doubt. He stayed in touch with his corps friends over the many years since he had stopped marching and he was certainly remembered by all whom where in the corps with him. John was lost when the second plane slammed into the south tower. Reports were that he had initially gotten out of the building, but then went back in to help evacuate people. I remember John, and it doesn't surprise me one bit that he went back into that building. He was a good kid -- energetic, athletic and always wore a smile. He was raised right by good people -- his mother made sure he made the practices and he was always a team player. He made friends fast and he was someone you could trust. I hadn't seen John in more than 25 years. Just like I watched the unfolding of events this last week with such great sadness, I remember watching events unfold on Sept. 11 with that same terrible feeling. A week later, when my mother let me know that John was in the tower and hadn't yet been found, I remember thinking, "No, that just isn't right." To me, he'll always be that short soprano player who would join my drum line buddies and I at the Diary Queen after practice. He was part of my family, my drum corps family. I know that today this drum corps family will care for those who have lost so much in the hurricane. I just wanted to take a moment and remember one of our family that was lost in an equally terrible tragedy not too long ago. John Hart
Feb. 27, 1963 – Sept. 11, 2001
Husband and father
Member of the Eau Claire, Wis., Sundowners 1974-1976 Jim Dittrich marched percussion for nine years during the 1970s in three Illinois corps, the White Tornadoes, Blackhawks and Guardsmen. He most recently has been on the percussion staff for Kilties. He contributed the following tribute. I've recently witnessed two extraordinary events that have had a powerful effect on me, and I felt that I had to share them with the readers of Fanfare. To me, these events reflect the intensity of emotion and the immensely powerful bond that develops among the people involved in our activity. It is remarkable to me that, although I have been involved in this activity -- as a marching member, an instructor, a spectator or a parent -- for 35 years, these events occurred within a few weeks of each other. My son Andy, a regular contributor to, is a member of Southwind. I was able to spend a couple of weeks with the corps this summer as a parent/volunteer, and was with them during the week of the DCI World Championships. The corps members were a little disappointed that they didn't get on the live theater feed during Thursday's quarterfinals due to the way the order of appearance was set up, but they didn't let that affect their performance. Being uncertain whether they would make Friday's semifinals show, they had a very emotional day on Thursday. The show that afternoon was excellent, and they were rewarded with a 16th-place showing in semis. The Friday show was as exciting as Thursday's, and they improved two points and held on to 16th place, their best showing in several years. After the show, the corps members did their post-show huddle, aware that this was their last performance of 2005. They had a brief meeting and concluded by singing "Legends of the Fall," their adopted corps song, with words written by one of the members. There was a massive teary corps hug, and the moment just hung there for some time. No one spoke, but the warmth and intensity of all of the kids' feelings towards each other and what they had accomplished this summer held there for a while. Finally, Mike Loeffelholz, the director, made an off-hand, funny remark and the spell was broken. Three weeks later, as a member of the Kilties percussion staff, I was in Scranton, Pa., for the corps' performance at DCA Nationals. As a junior corps, the Kilties had a rich and successful history. As a senior corps, they have struggled at times, but in my opinion, have improved greatly over the last few years. We had no idea how we would fare in Scranton, but we were hopeful that, with a good show, we could at least be competitive for a spot in Finals. At the end of the opener, one of our members -- Joel "Lothar" Magnuson -- went down. The corps left the field as medical personnel worked to revive him. As we stood in the parking lot, fearing the worst, the ambulance drove by and we heard, "We have a pulse!" With the hopefulness that follows good news, the corps decided to start over and perform again, knowing that Lothar would have wanted us to do so. As I think anybody in the audience would attest, the Kilties performance, though maybe not as clean as it could have been, was as emotional and intense as any I have seen. Tragically, after the performance, we all received word that Joel had passed away at the hospital shortly after his arrival there. It is a Kiltie tradition that, after every corps function, (whether it be a practice, parade or competition), the corps plays a chorale version of "Auld Lang Syne." The next morning at our hotel, after a brief corps meeting, we gathered outside to play "Syne" for our fallen brother. With Lothar's horn in the center of the circle, the tradition continued. Afterwards, the silence, broken by sobs and sniffles, matched that which followed Southwind's Boston performance. Two different events: One was joyful and proud, one tragic and painful. Two different corps: One was young and one -- well, not so young. Two traditions: One new and fresh and one as old and rich as our whole activity. Yet these two moments capture the powerful and intense emotions that all of us who watch and participate in drum corps feel towards each other. For those two moments, seemingly polar opposites of each other, also share the mix of passionate emotions that exist in our lives. In the happiness of that silence in Gillette Stadium was the sad knowledge that this extraordinary group of young people would never perform together again. And in that sad, sad silence in a hotel parking lot in Pittston, Pa., was the warmth that we all shared, knowing that each of us would carry the memory of a large man who lived a large life. And even amid the tears of a sorrowful time, those who knew this man could only think of him and smile. There was sadness inside of the joy and smiles inside of the tears. Lothar lived and – sadly -- died with the Kilties. He wouldn't have it any other way.
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.