My bands used to do our local Memorial Day Parade. It took us a long time to prepare for it (we started in February), it was always scorching hot, and parents often complained about it. After being accused of exposing their children to heat stroke for making them wear blue jeans a few years back, I decided that this gig wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be.
As always, when breaking with longstanding tradition in the education community, it is best to simultaneously propose a replacement activity. Instead, we decided to visit a local nursing home and perform for real veterans.
This will be our third year, and I think it serves our elders well. They really enjoy seeing the huge group come in and play for them. Many end up in tears because it brings back memories of their own or their children’s experiences with school music programs. They insist on shaking my hand, and tearfully thanking me, which always gets me.
It also serves the kids well, to remember these elders, to see how much they enjoy their performance, to understand what it must be like to have to wait for your entertainment to come to you.
On this Memorial Day, I’m thankful for the service of our veterans, and also the elder community who supported those veterans.