MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE,N.C. -- Members of the 2nd Marine Division Band were invited by the 2nd Marine Division commanding general to a dinner of appreciation at General Officer Quarters, July 9, 2013.
“The reason why we wanted to say thanks is because we really appreciate what you guys do. You play all the time at everything around base. We’re used to having the band at our functions,” said Brigadier General James W. Lukeman, the 2nd Marine Division commanding general and native of Beaufort, S.C. “Just know we don’t take you all for granted and we do appreciate all of the work you put forth.”
The invitation from Lukeman came as a surprise to the Marines because, for most, this is the first time a commanding general has ever invited the band to a dinner to express appreciation.
“I was nervous when I heard we were going to be coming here,” said Cpl. Nathan D. Javaras, a percussion player from Fredericksburg, Va. “It’s definitely a surprise. I usually feel that we go unnoticed.”
“This is a step up. Usually we’ll just get a thank you and a handshake,” added Lance Cpl. Michael J. Frick a trumpet player from Fort Myers, Fla.
The Marines felt nervous while heading out to dinner but had the nervous edge taken away after a few minutes of being welcomed.
“Being here is not as stressful as I thought it would be, it’s very relaxed,” said Javaras.
With the stress relieved from everyone’s mind the atmosphere quickly changed from silent side conversations to smiles and laughter shared among the group.
“It’s really nice and a good time. I’m having fun. I’m a lot more comfortable than I thought I would be,” said Frick. “They did a great job making us feel welcome here.”
Before dinner was served a few words from Lukeman and Sgt. Maj. Bryan K. Zickefoose, the 2nd Marine Division Sergeant Major, were shared.
“I appreciate everything you do and what you stand for. You stand for the Marine Corps and represent esprit de corps, motivation, and honor, courage, and commitment,” said Zickefoose. “The band protects our tradition.”
“You guys are a tremendous and a really superb band,” said Lukeman. “Whenever we have families come and see the band for the first time they are amazed.”
Lukeman also shared a story with the band about his wife.
“Everytime we hear ‘Carolina in the Morning,’ Frances turns to me, slaps me and says, ‘I love that,’” said Lukeman, as everyone began to laugh.
The band members will use these words of encouragement and appreciation as motivation in future performances.
“What they said definitely gave me a higher sense of pride and will make me want to perform to my best next time,” said Javaras.