I am blessed to have two children who are part of the high school marching band of the high school I attended thirty years ago. When my wife and I prayed for our children one of the talents we wished for them each was a love of music. Of course at that time we had no designs for them to be singers or instrumentalists, we just wanted them to love it for its beauty. In fact, both our children have and use each of these talents.
My oldest will turn eighteen in about five weeks. For the past five years we have enjoyed watching him express his singing and instrumental talent as a part of the Patrick Henry Rebel Regiment marching and concert bands. He is also a member of the choral program and the audition-only Jazz Choir. My son was identified at the end of his seventh grade year with a handful of his peers to join the high school marching band a year early, thus the five year career with the four year high school unit.
During his first season with the marching band I found myself overflowing with emotion, but it was unbridled excitement. Hearing their drum cadence and seeing the competition white uniforms when they approached a stadium for their turn to compete was about as exciting to me as a long touch down in football and trust me, that is saying a whole lot. I can remember my wife asking if I would need some medicine to get me through the performance due to my exhilaration.
During his time with the band we have had so many good memories. There has been fifty high school football games, most of which we lost, but the band was usually the high point and certainly entertained with their field show as well as stand music and spirited antics as they cheered on our team. We have traveled to twenty plus band competitions in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee, competing against some fabulous bands.
In some of these competitions our band was deemed to be the best of all. On some Saturday evenings while we shivered under warm coats and blankets, our results were less favorable and sometimes downright disappointing. But watching my son take part was always the most important piece. For the last two years my daughter has been part of the unit and to have both as part of this experience has been an extreme pleasure and made me overflow with pride.
As my son’s time with the band drew to a close, I did not expect the kind of emotion it evoked. His last competition was at a local campus of the University of Virginia. It was a cold, wet Saturday in October of last year. There was a group of bands with impressive resumes with a season worth of practicing and performances behind them that joined us on the artificial turf that day. For our seniors it was the last chance to show their talent and claim the biggest prize.
I do not know how many of you will be familiar with what I am about to describe and it will seem to have nothing to do with the subject of this post, but bear with me as I explain A couple or three years ago i hear this pastor at a Nationwide NASCAR Series event give a stirring pre-race prayer the likes of which I had never heard. You see I come from a Methodist upbringing and now attend a Baptist church here in Virginia I am used to sermons about sin and salvation, keeping the commandments and such, but the style of the preacher I mentioned was unlike anything I knew.
The man’s exuberance matched the setting of the event and his delivery was something I sure the thousands in attendance will never forget. The man gave thanks for all things relating to the race teams, his smoking hot wife (shouldn’t we always be mindful to do this), his children and then at the end he said something similar to Boogity, Boogity, Boogity AMEN! Needless to say the crowd went berserk and this preacher will be forever remembered for that moment. Now some will say that was improper. I choose not to agree as any prayer that is remembered is certainly got to have some value. You can see a video of this prayer at the end of this post.
OK, so you ask what that had to do with this? There is a practice at many high school band competitions in these parts for parents to be able to offer a message to their children or grandchildren if the situation applies right before they perform. It is called various things, Air-Grams, Music Notes or some other clever name. In essence you can offer words of encouragement.
Unfortunately we did not get to the stadium early enough to get one of these submitted for the first performance. This competition was different however in that the top rated bands competed in a second round for the Grand Champion trophy. I headed off to the table where the Air-Grams were collected and wrote out my offering to be read when our band retook the field for the last time in my son’s career.
Somehow the message did not get delivered to the announcer in time, so the Air gram was never read. It went something like this: “We have listened to you play your Mello (Short for Mellophone) for five years and I know we will miss hearing that strong sound next season. We love you and are proud of you as you finish your career. I guess all this is left to say is BOOGITY, BOOGITY, BOOGITY GOODBYE! My son has seen the preacher at the NASCAR track multiple times on YouTube and certainly would have gotten the reference.
As I stood and watched the Rebel Regiment take the field and begin playing their last performance of his senior year the tears overcame me. I suppose if I am truthful it was a mix of joy and sadness. I still get to enjoy three more years with my daughter on the field, but as with all things, some of the good will come to an end. You will see several pictures of my son and daughter in their uniforms within this post. They are unending sources of pride in my life.
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