MCAS BEAUFORT S.C. --
The Friday night lights, the thundering drums, the clear ringing of brass. The Marines put on quite a show.
The Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island Marine Corps Band performed during a Thomas Hayward Academy football game in Ridgeland, S.C., Aug. 23.
The academy invited the band as part of a military appreciation theme for the game.
“We try to do this as often as possible,” said Gunnery Sgt. David Wilson, the MCRD Parris Island Marine Corps Band drum major. “Anytime a local high school calls us up we try to get outside the gates and promote military music and to recruit for the Marine Corps as a whole.”
The band’s performance marked the fourth annual military appreciation game hosted by the academy. A practice put into place not only to recognize veterans, past and present, but to give the students an awareness of service members’ sacrifices.
“We have students from the surrounding area including Beaufort,” said Phillip Rhodes, Thomas Heyward Academy athletic director. “Many of them have parents who are presently serving or recently served in the military. A lot of the staff has served as well.
“We want them to understand and have a better appreciation of the sacrifices. It is not just the men and women who serve, it’s the families who serve as well for the country,” he said.
The band performed the national anthem during the opening ceremony and several patriotic songs during the half-time show, including a re-enactment of the flag raising on Iwo Jima, demonstrating the precision and bearing Marines are known for.
All of the Marines’ practice and preparation does not go unnoticed by spectators once tour bus rubber meets the road.
“I hope the band understands how much we appreciate them,” Rhodes said. “I hope all our military members feel that.”
During the first half of the game, the Marines went into the stands to talk with patrons, and hand out Marine Corps paraphernalia including lanyards, water bottles and CDs on the Corps.
Some conversations had the attention of the Marines as they spoke with veterans about their experiences in the military. Some held the attention of students on life as a Marine.
“Determination and encouragement is always good for students,” Wilson said. “Some places don’t know anything about the Marine Corps and the first and potentially only impression they have of the Corps is the Marine band.”
When the lights dim and instruments are put back in their cases, the first memory of the Marine Corps will still remain, the memory of Friday night lights, shimmering brass instruments and dress blue uniforms.