I don't think I truly understood the importance of Memorial Day until two years ago, during my senior year of high school. The blog post I wrote that day was short, and you can read it HERE, but it's still absolutely true. On this Memorial Day I happened to think back to that day, which is probably one of the most memorable days of my life. I even wrote about it in my memoir at the end of my senior year, talking about how it would be pictured as a scene in a movie, simply because that was the only way to describe how it felt.
Our High School Band has a long tradition of performing in both the Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony in our little city, something I participated in for 7 years, both as a Middle Schooler and High Schooler, and now for the last two years as an alumni volunteer. Why am I always there, helping with uniforms and carrying a banner and filming the band? Well, for one, my Mom is in charge or the uniforms so it kind of comes with living in this house, and secondly I am a music major, so it definitely makes sense. But beyond that, helping on Memorial Day is important to me because of that realization I had two years ago, and it's certainly a realization and appreciation that has come with a little help from Disney.
But first let me tell you a story. It's not a terribly interesting story, but I do believe it helps get the point across here. Back when I was in Middle School, I honestly didn't like marching in the Memorial Day Parade. It took a lot of effort, keeping people in line and everything that came along with it. It meant getting up early on my day off to go and march down the street with my instrument. Everyone else got to sleep in or have the entire day off of school but no, my friends and I had to be downtown at 8 in the morning, ready for the parade. When I reached High School, it meant getting into our terrible uniforms and marching in the heat. Still on our day off, only now it was also now unbearably hot. Wonderful. I lived that way until my senior year, when I stood at the top of my ladder as drum major and looked around to see how many people it was really impacting. Sure, I had to pay attention to directing, but as members of the service stood during our performance of Armed Forces Salute, including the five main service themes, I couldn't help but glance at the crowd. We were making so many happy, just by being there and taking part in the service. Of course, at that point I'd already decided to pursue music in college, so I have a greater appreciation for music in elements like this already, but something still clicked in my head.
And that's why I still go back and volunteer for the band, even if it means getting up at 7 in the morning to be on time. The band has provided me with countless opportunities that I'll forever be grateful for, and Memorial Day is one of the moments the band has a chance to give back to the community that supports them. And if I learned anything in my time as Drum Major and President of that band, it's that a marching band is nothing without support from the community.
There was one other thing that came to mind as I sat in this year's Memorial Day Ceremony, however: a quote from John Steinbeck. "We now face the danger, which in the past has been the most destructive to the humans: success, plenty, comfort and ever-increasing leisure. No dynamic people has ever survives these dangers."
I like to remember that quote, which you may recognize from The American Adventure at Epcot, when I feel like I'm pretty successful in whatever I'm doing. Yes, I may find success, but with that comes the danger that I will forget where I come from and push the important things aside. I could have a leisurely day at home instead of running around leading a drum line through a high school hallway, resulting in some hearing loss, but what would the fun in that be? And more importantly, is that really the right way to honor those who have served our country and made my success possible?
Oh, and just for old times sake, here's an old picture of me from my senior year in band. As you can see, I was really photogenic.
Have a magical day!