A most meaningful thing occurred at the end of the DCI World Championships Division I Finals in Pasadena. Two U.S. Marine Iraqi War veterans—now back in Iraq—were in Pasadena to enjoy the show, courtesy of Bill Streit of Brandon, Fla. Bill met Terrie Hobson, a hotel worker where Bill was staying during the Championships week, and she told him that her son, Jack Kenner, was heading back to Iraq the next week. Our planet can seem so dark at times, but late at night after most had left the stadium, members of a championship drum corps helped brighten the world for two Marines ... Spontaneously, Bill decided to bring in Jack from Missouri and his Marine Corps buddy, Lance Frymier from West Virginia, so they could enjoy some entertainment before shipping out. He also secured tickets for Terrie and the two Marines, none of whom were drum corps fans prior to coming to Pasadena. All three were tremendously impressed with the show and the generosity of Bill. He preferred anonymity, but the Marines wished to publicly thank him. Lance, who had played in a high school marching band, said what he witnessed from the corps "totally blew my mind ... the coordination of all the routines was unbelievable." Jack said he respected everyone who performed because, "It's good for the body and good for the soul. What I saw tonight was unbelievable." Chief Warrant Officer Brian Dix, director of the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, was phoned from the press box. He chatted with Jack and Lance over the speakerphone, telling them that two of his drum corps members were shipping out to Iraq in September, adding, "I'm honored to know they'll be there at the same time as you, because having you there means my Marines will be safe." CWO Dix also mentioned he would be sending an entire case of U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps CDs to their unit so all could enjoy listening to the music during their off-duty time. All night, anonymous drum corps fans applauded and thanked the two Marines for their service to their country. Lance mentioned, "Being here—around all these people who have cared for us and respect us—makes it different and special." After watching Blue Devils' victory encore from the press box, Terrie leaned over and asked, "Earlier, they told me that what they really want to do is meet the Blue Devils. Is there a chance of that happening?" Not knowing if any of the entourage could ever get down to the field without a pass, the instant answer was, "Yes!" Upon hearing the story, the director of security for the Rose Bowl gave permission for the group to pass through the security barrier. All went down to the field, where Blue Devils were in a hurry to say their good-byes, take photos of themselves with their corps friends and get off the field.
Corps director David Gibbs listened to the story and agreed to make the Marines' wishes come true. With everything else going on, Gibbs and the corps didn't need another logistic to deal with. But after Gibbs told the members of the corps what was going on, a most touching thing happened. The entire corps gave the Marines a big ovation. One-by-one, members of the corps came up to them to shake their hands and wish them a safe journey to and back from Iraq. Many in the entourage were in tears. This summarizes the best of what drum corps is all about. Blue Devils, still celebrating their record 12th DCI World Championship, took time from their own festivities to look at the bigger picture and spread some joy in return. Due to their impending return to Iraq, the two Marines had to have something larger on their minds. But they were impressed and captivated by the actions of this group of 135 youth, many their same age. Our planet can seem so dark at times, but late at night after most had left the stadium, members of a championship drum corps helped brighten the world for two Marines, reminding all that the mark of a champion goes far beyond just finishing the season with the highest score.
Jack Kenner, Terrie Hobson, Lance Frymier