Happy Memorial Day to you. Hopefully you’re enjoying your day off, having a beer and brat, and basically doing nothing.
But today is about remembering our soldiers, especially the fallen. So today I’m going to remember Tim.
I went to college with Tim. We were both music majors and in most of the same classes. He was a percussionist, a hell of a percussionist. I remember he and I taking the train home on the weekends and spending the time studying music theory, trying to make this foreign language of theory make sense. I remember him playing in drumline, leading the bass drums. I remember him in Wind Symphony, absolutely kicking butt on some of the music we performed. Tough stuff, lots of intense percussion.
Tim marched in drum corps. He marched in the Madison Scouts. To understand corps, you have to know that members spend the entire summer marching and playing across the country. They sleep on gym floors, travel on tour buses, live outside. Oh, and pay for the privilege. If you’ve never been to a drum corps show, you should go. They’re all over the country in the summer.
After college Tim won a spot in the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps. This is a big deal. As a musician, to win a spot in a military band is equivalent to a position in a major orchestra. There are very very few professional bands or wind ensembles, and the military is the best of the best. I auditioned for the Army Fife and Drum Corps (and would have won the spot, but it’s a long story why I didn’t complete the audition) and was invited to audition for the Marines (which I did, and decided to get married instead). I have several friends in military bands and I know how hard it is to get in. Tim got into the Drum and Bugle Corps. From there I guess he was introduced to helicopter flying and fell in love with it.
In May of 2003 Tim was one of the pilots of a helicopter that crashed in Baghdad, no survivors. I remember that it hit me pretty hard. Tom knew him too, and both of us were pretty shook up. I never thought I would have a friend who would be killed in a war. I think of him from time to time. There’s an actor who bears an uncanny resemblance to Tim. Or I hear a piece of music we played in college, or find his recital program in my files, or see the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
So today I remember Tim. And I honor other friends and family members in the armed forces. I may not agree with the current administration, but I support those who protect us, and I support their families. So today as you enjoy your beer and brat, raise a toast to those who made your day off possible.