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Monday, May 28, 2012

West Point Graduation and Memorial Day, a week of patriotic events for the musicians in the West Point Band!

 "This weekend, folks across the country are opening up the pool, firing up the grill, and taking a well-earned moment to relax. But Memorial Day is more than a three-day weekend. In town squares and national cemeteries, in public services and moments of quiet reflection, we will honor those who loved their country enough to sacrifice their own lives for it.
"Even as we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we reaffirm our commitment to care for those who served alongside them--the veterans who came home. This includes our newest generation of veterans, from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"But on Memorial Day, we come together as Americans to let these families and veterans know that they are not alone. We give thanks for those who sacrificed everything so that we could be free. And we commit ourselves to upholding the ideals for which so many patriots have fought and died." - President Obama

SSG Chi and myself perform as part of the West Point Chamber Series
 There is some predictability to my schedule. I can be sure that all patriotic holidays will be supported by the West Point Band, and I can be doubly sure that the week of graduation events at West Point will be supported as well. Graduation week is a time full of hope and excitement at West Point, and it is so encouraging to see the matured, happy faces of the graduating cadets. I don't know all of them personally, but I know what they do and that we should all be proud of them. Much like last year on Memorial day, I would just like to give a "shout-out" to all of the military musicians (especially the clarinetists!!) but also to the new leaders graduating from West Point.  It is also an opportunity to share some of my favorite pictures from this past year!
Me and Placido Domingo at the Harmony Program Gala
Here's a cool video made by the West Point Band's publicity department that shows the Graduation Parade and Graduation Ceremony. The march used for these events is "Graduation March" which contains many West Point songs and songs that point to West Point traditions (you will notice the wedding march, which is a nod to the many weddings that seem to occur the day after graduation). While you're listening, keep in mind that we play this while marching... it never gets easier!

This Memorial Day we spent the late 
morning at West Point's wreath-laying ceremony held at Trophy Point on the grounds of West Point. This ceremony includes a 21 gun salute, a presentation of Taps by a bugler, a prayer, and the raising of the flag to full-staff. Charles Ives' Decoration Day is a portrayal of Memorial Day festivities (Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day until 1967) and includes Taps along with many marches and hymns. Though this morning's ceremony sounded nothing like Decoration Day, it certainly had the elements that Ives captured in his piece. 

The West Point Band at Trophy Point
It's a great job, and I am always happy that I can serve in this special capacity. I hope you all enjoy your long weekend and never forget to think about the people that gave their lives for our country! 

For love of country they accepted death...  ~James A. Garfield