Friday, November 9, 2012

Music’s Meaning to Veterans

By Gabe DiMaio, Classical 94.5 WNED program director

Music plays a part in the lives of many, but for veterans the relationship is a little different. Twenty-five years ago, I went to Parris Island and, shortly thereafter, earned the title of United States Marine. Every day for me since has been influenced by that experience and for many like me we are proud to have served and can sing the Marine Hymn on command.

Though, a command is never necessary. I am not embarrassed to say that my son learned all three verses only because I sing it on a regular basis.

For those of who have had the honor, music brings veterans back to their former duty stations. We can recall our Drill & Ceremony when military marches punctuate our memory with many hours in the heat and sun for a General or other officer’s change of command.

When we return to civilian life, especially for those who have served in war, music helps many veterans to adjust. In Air University Review, March-April 1972, Captain James Conley discussed the role of music and how important it is in this regard:

“Chris Mead, only one of thousands of Vietnam veterans returned home, was interviewed by Newsweek about his experiences and expectations (29 March 1971). Among other things, the report says he spent $291 of his $524 coming-out pay on an eight-track stereo-radio and a dozen cartridge tapes. Mead is reported as saying, “Now I’ll have to go to work right away to get some wheels. But I have to have music to get my head back to where it was. I want some peace of mind.”

Veterans hear the Star Spangled Banner differently. At sporting events, one of us will most likely be the person standing with his hat off and singing a full-throated rendition to accompany the half-hearted mumblings of the others who surround him.

As veterans, we will also share once piece of music regardless of the branch or the time during which we served. The sound of a lone bugle will serenade us with Taps as we are lowered into the ground, whether we pass on the battlefield or many decades after proud service to our country.

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