As the new year begins, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Fanfare columns from the 14 months of the column (Fanfare started on August 30, 2002). It wasn't easy to pick one from every few weeks, but this column touched me for the spirit brought to the activity by each of the people I wrote about. We'll have some more classic columns through this week. Originally published on Nov. 15, 2002

Michael Boo
I am so grateful for any and all e-mails I receive from the readers of this column. But one came in just this past weekend, leading into Veterans' Day, which just about knocked me on the floor. It was not sent in response to any particular solicitation to the readers regarding a particular topic. But, it summarized everything I could ever hope to convey about the activity we know as drum corps.
To be honest, I had a little difficulty reading it through my tears. I hope I have always been as proud as possible for this activity and for the men and women who serve our country. After this contribution, I'm not sure I'll look at either the activity or those serving the cause of liberty in quite the same way.
As we approach a new year of hope and dreams, may we resolve to never take for granted that with which we have been so amply blessed ... a wonderful activity, an honorable country, and all those within the activity and the armed services who work to keep both alive and thriving. And here is where many of you can play a role. During the Veterans' Day weekend, many of us saw news clips about the digital bugle now being employed at funerals of veterans, due to the lack of available buglers. This shortage is felt across the country, as all veterans are eligible for a military funeral. To counteract the situation, the Pentagon has approved the use of the digital bugle, which is held like a traditional bugle, but contains within its bell a speaker and sound chip that plays "Taps" at the push of a button. My friends, although this development is better than nothing, (and is certainly preferable to the boomboxes that have been used for "Taps" at many veterans' funerals), it is still a shame. However, there is something we can do about it. Please go to and check out what some drum corps people are doing to try to remedy this situation. The organization for which the Web site is named was formed less than two years ago by Tom Day, a former Marine, a former marching member of the Cavaliers, and the co-founder of the Anaheim Kingsmen. Tom would love to recruit both alumni and current performers of all corps to volunteer for this noble cause. Several DCI corps alumni and current members are already registered with this Web site. Ideally, anyone who can play a trumpet or soprano bugle would be registered. You never know if the family to whom you could give comfort in the future are neighbors or friends. With typical drum corps heart, these buglers are playing final honors for veterans, as well as commemorative events of all types. Bugles Across America has already registered 1,400 buglers and, in its first 18 months, has provided military honors for 6,000 veterans' funerals. If you can do this, it would likely be for the sake of someone you probably don't know, and for the love of your country and the pride you have in being part of the drum corps community. But if you still need some additional motivation to stir the your heart to take the plunge, read the following. Then see if you are still sitting on the edge by the time you get to the end. Without further comment, here are the words of Sgt. Timothy L. Tilley, United States Army. He is presently stationed with Delta Troop, 4th Squadron -- 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, at Camp Stanton in the Republic of Korea. Michael, I believe that my involvement with Spirit of Atlanta and other corps as a staff member has made me the soldier and husband, father and servant that I am today. It struck me the other day as I listened to the 2002 DCI top 21 CDs for the first time that I have listened to a lot of drum corps for a lot of reasons, in quite a few places around the world. I wanted to share this with you in hopes that you could share it through your column ... just another person's way of explaining the fire the burns within the drum corps fan's heart for the activity and the love that we all share for it. Listening. I have listened ... to drum corps as a student ... a young man trying to find what music was all about in my band room ... watching the 1983 finals and sitting in a simple state of awe, transfixed by what was happening on the screen in front of me and a band director with a grin on his face. I guess he was thinking that he had indeed snared another fan for the drum corps fantasy. I watched ... the show from my 7th row seat in Atlanta and thought that I was ready to go to heaven. How could it get any better? I didn't sleep that night -- the memories of the power and glory that is corps kept me from slowing down for what must have been a month. I said while leaving the stadium, "I will march with that corps." I played ... the first time with a corps, in the arc, and I cried from the feeling that I had. Not a bad feeling, but a happy, transformed feeling that I had been musically reborn. I marched ... my first show in New York and felt like I had really accomplished one of the greatest feats of my life -- marching with a drum corps. I listened ... to my cassette of my corps crouched beside my bunk at Army basic training, thinking, "Why are all these people complaining? Why is he crying? Why is he homesick? THIS IS ONLY EIGHT WEEKS, I MARCHED AN ENTIRE SUMMER WORKING HARDER THAN THIS!" I listened ... from my barracks room in Germany and found that with those headphones on, I was transported right back home to a place that made me not miss mom and dad so much. I could remember my dad standing in the tunnel of the Iron Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., as I marched off the field. I grew about two inches instantly just knowing that he saw me there. I listened ... to a patriotic show in a foxhole on the first day of the ground war in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm. I felt like a real American. I don't need to tell you what was one of the top items on the list that I was willing to fight and die for, do I? I defended freedom and did it thinking that I was helping another young man or woman fulfill their dream of marching in a drum corps. I fought for our activity. I fought for the opportunity of every kid in school to pick up a horn and play, to participate in the same amazing activity that had shown me what working hard and doing the right thing was. I listen ... and watch ... now from my barracks, again, 8 kilometers from the demilitarized zone in South Korea. I hear strains of freedom and America in the music that our best and brightest youth create on football fields across the country every summer. I hear opportunity at every level of musicianship for another kid to have the chance that I did to march. I feel honored to have been a part of the activity, but what makes me especially happy is that when I go to work I can honor drum corps by applying the very same principles, work ethic, and accomplishment that I learned was possible in drum corps to my job as a soldier. I hear commitment ... I hear devotion ... I hear a nation's freedom beating a cadence of strength in a time where strength and freedom are in question all over the globe. Do you hear it? Sgt. Timothy L. Tilley, United States Army
Delta Troop, 4th Squadron-7th Cavalry Regiment
2nd Infantry Division, Republic of Korea Spirit of Atlanta, member, 1988
Spirit of Atlanta, support staff, 1993-1994
Carolina Crown, visual staff, 1995-1997