Yesterday was the Twelfth Annual Tri-Valley Veteran's Day Ceremony in Pleasanton, and the Pleasanton Community Concert Band provided the music for the ceremony. This was my first concert with the PCCB, and I think its very cool that it was for this occasion (though the other saxophones tell me at the last concert they played "Pirates of the Caribbean" so I'm quite jealous!). The ceremony was honoring the Air Force this year so we played many Air Force-inspired marches. Uncle Sam sang "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America" with us.
One of the most interesting parts of the ceremony was the proclamation and award given to a local man who was a paratrooper at Utah Beach. He was not long ago contacted by a French memorial who had tracked him down through the serial number on the belt buckle on the pair of pants that had fallen out of his pack so many years ago. That prompted him to finish his service record, and he found out he had been awarded a bronze star.
Another part I quite enjoyed was when we played a medley of service songs. Each branch would stand up and cheer when we got to their song (Semper Paratus, Air Force, Anchors Away, Marine Corps Hymn, and Caisson Song). The audience was about 100 people, half of them in uniform and the other half families and friends. I couldn't see them since I was looking at my music, but hearing the cheers during the songs was very moving. .
All in all it was a wonderful performance. At the last minute it was moved into the VFW Hall instead of Veteran's Park due to rain the previous day, so we didn't get the fly-over that was scheduled. But I was sitting directly in front of the big bass drum, so I got enough loud sounds in my ears I suppose.
Walking back to my car after the performance I was quite surprised by how many people would stop to thank me for playing. I was honored to do so. Its the same when I'm playing swing and jazz at the senior centers. I feel a little bad to have other people appreciate it so much. Its almost like community service, but I'm enjoying it so much that it doesn't feel like I'm giving anything at all. If anything, I'm getting back far more. I am so very happy to have music back in my life again... it feels like coming home.