This week, we are devoting some editorial attention to drum corps events, thoughts and memories that happen and have happened in the Western U.S. Interlude is a section of dedicated to periodically telling the longer, more in-depth stories of the drum corps experience. If you have an essay that perhaps metaphorically relates to larger life, this is the place for it (writers seeking an online clip, here's your chance). Send your completed essays, along with a brief bio and even a picture (and your own e-mail address, if you so choose), to with the subject line "Interlude." We look forward to hearing from you!

Joel Peters
Joel Peters, 19, who marched in Diamond Bar, California's Pacific Crest in 2002 and 2003, is headed to Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. He wanted to share his thoughts with the drum corps community.

Getting to march in 2003 was a blessing for which I'll always be thankful. I enlisted in the Marine Corps in February of 2003 and my ship date would make it impossible for me to march that year, so I had to leave the corps. It was the hardest decision of my life. But somehow, my date got switched so that I'd be leaving in September of 2003. I could march! If they'd have me back, that is. Well, I went back to see if there were any spots left. This was in April, and luckily there was a tuba hole. So I took it. Well, it was one of the biggest challenges of my life, but when is anything drum corps related not? Anyway, I picked up the horn, a feat in itself, and started to learn the show. In the next few months I would have the best times of my life. I would also endure some of the hardest moments I had experienced up to that time. Not just being exhausted and covered in sunblock or valve oil, but realizing that in a short time, all of this pain, laughter and pride would come to an end for me, forever. Marching that last year taught me how precious each weekend, each day, each show or rehearsal is. It taught me to savor every note, it taught me that every time you step on the field you have the opportunity to touch someone's soul with what you're doing. Whether you march in a top Division I corps, or in a Division II & III corps, you have the chance to make people feel something that only you and they understand. That person could include a stranger out in the audience, mom or dad, or the member on the field next to you. But I know one thing for certain. The people you touch will include me. I'll never get to go back and do what you all have the opportunity. In a way, it's a blessing. I'm doing something now that I've always wanted to do. But I'm also going to get a chance to look at people just like me doing something they love -- feeling the same emotions I felt, sneaking glances at the crowd during the coolest part in the show, and leaving everything they have on every field they compete on. When I marched, I found that we were able to leave it all there because we got it all back once we got back on that bus and pulled into the next housing site. Sleeping for a few hours and getting up to do it all over again. Something I learned in both drum corps and the Marine Corps is that the most genuine friendships you make, the most memorable times of your life, are when you're sharing pain with those around you, and getting through it with those around you. You're just as tired as everyone else at the end of the show, but you hold out that last note, or charge that last move the best you can because you owe it to your brothers and sisters and they owe it to you. It's something that not everyone in this world gets to feel and that's what makes it so precious. I could say, 'Make this summer the most unforgettable few months of your life,' but drum corps doesn't start and stop in the summer. It begins at auditions, continues through each camp, each show and through finals week, but it never really stops. The buses go home, the equipment gets packed away and we all go back to our normal lives, but it never really ends. The screams of the crowd will echo throughout your life for as long as you let them and the faces of those you spent months sweating, laughing and hurting with will be burned into your heart until you try to forget it all, years later, because it hurts knowing you'll never get the chance to experience it all again. But those experiences and memories are some of the greatest gifts this activity gives us. Don't sell yourself short this season. Work harder and give more than you think you can. You owe it to everyone alongside you, everyone marching in another corps, everyone going to see the shows, but most of all you owe it to yourself and to those who can't march again, or will never get the chance to do what you do. I wish someone would've told me how much I'd miss it when I first started marching in 2002. But life's a crazy thing, you can't tell where you'll be in just a few short years. Touch someone's life this year. You may never have the opportunity again.