Garrett De Jong
By Garrett De Jong
Guest columnist
San Diego Alliance^For all who march drum corps, the corps jacket signifies who we are and where we march. Before, during and after shows, you will find many jackets bearing the name of a corps worn by those who have marched or still march today. The jacket is worn with honor and pride, and often represents accomplishments of and individual and their particular corps. I took this idea and chose to represent on my jacket why and how I am able to march drum corps. On the left sleeve of my jacket, there are two non-corps related patches sewn. On the top is the Naval Sea Systems Command "Sea Shadow" patch, and below it are Naval "Hash" marks (red stripes -- one bar for every four years served). I know what you are thinking, what are those patches doing on my corps jacket? They have nothing to do with drum corps as a whole, but to me they represent two of the most courageous and dedicated men I know. Our corps director, Mr. Darrell Griffin, is a huge part of why I march at the San Diego Alliance. Mr. Griffin has no kids of his own marching in the corps, he is not paid and he spends a substantial amount of time and money in keeping the corps running. Many would think he is crazy to do such a thing. Why would someone put up with dealing with so much every year (did I mention he takes his only two weeks of vacation at work to tour with us in the summer?) with no compensation? One answer: Love. His love for the activity and the kids is why he dedicates so much to the SDA. He treats the members with courtesy and respect, and also has one of the best staff units (also all volunteers) in DCI. In 2001, when the corps needed an equipment truck but couldn't afford one, Mr. Griffin and his wife bought a medium size cargo truck and donated it to the corps for the members to keep all of our gear in. Also in 2001, when the battery was in dire need of new drums, Mr. Griffin came to the rescue and cosigned the loan for a full set of Dynasty drums. For over 20 years he served his country in the United States Navy and is in charge of one of the most elite boats on the ocean, the Sea Shadow. I wear the patch on my jacket to show respect for Mr. Griffin and all that he has done for our corps. Corps directors like him are not given nearly as much respect as they deserve, and this is my way to honor him. In 2001, my rookie year in drum corps, I actually had no urge to go to tryouts for the local San Diego Alliance corps. Like many other young people, I had only seen corps like the Madison Scouts and Phantom Regiment and thought anything less then nine snares and thirty horns was obsolete. With a little encouragement from my parents, I returned to the second rehearsal and haven't looked back since. There was just one problem; How was I going to be able to pay for tour and camps? I was 15 at the time without a job and still living at home, so I looked to my parents for financial help. They were happy to help me with money that year and always were eager to know how things were going. In 2002, right before the corps left for its Midwest tour, drivers were suddenly needed to haul all the corps gear from San Diego to DeKalb, Ill. Short on volunteers, I casually and jokingly asked my dad one day after rehearsal if he would drive the truck for the corps. To my surprise, the next day he informed me he was taking an unpaid leave of absence from work to drive the truck. I was astounded to say the least. During tour he also helped load, cook and clean for the corps as well as taking photos and driving people around Madison during finals week. Upon returning, he wanted to be more involved with the corps and was voted into the corps' board of directors. He now helps run all fund-raising events for the corps and even works at the sports arena (along with many staff members) to help raise money for the general fund. Like Mr. Griffin, my dad also served in the Navy and the Hash marks are on my jacket to show respect for his hard work and dedication he puts into something that I love so much. I know it may look weird and they (the patches) have nothing to do with drum corps, but to me they are two of the biggest reasons I am able and do march drum corps. To me, drum corps is all about respect, dedication and love. These patches represent all three of these traits, and I will wear them on my jacket proudly until the day I age out. See you on tour! -Garrett De Jong-
San Diego Alliance Drum and Bugle Corps 2001-2005
San Diego Alliance snare line 2001, 2002, 2003
San Diego Alliance percussion captain 2002, 2003
Any comments or questions can be sent to me at or on my AIM screen name: Alliancesnr3