MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
With every note of every song, the 2nd Marine Division Band dazzled the crowd with uplifting and dramatic melodies. The growing audience tapped feet and bobbed heads to the music as they waited for the Memorial Day commemoration to begin, May 30, 2011. After each song, the enthusiastic spectators rewarded the band with clapping hands as they eagerly anticipated the next piece.
The band was in Wilmington, N.C. providing musical support for Memorial Day festivities aboard the U.S.S. North Carolina. They stole the spotlight as they played a concert which preceded the official ceremony and provided additional support for the commemoration, creating an atmosphere for the entire event.
“Our role is to get out for the pre-ceremony and set the tone for the ceremony to come,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Pellon, the band’s acting enlisted conductor. “We played some very patriotic music and some more contemporary (pieces) like ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ to give people a little more cheer and to just enjoy the music.”
During the official ceremony, the band played a supporting role by accompanying the march of the colors, playing each American military branch’s service song and ending the ceremony with ‘Taps’.
“We want to make sure that everything we play within the ceremony is given the effect of what we are looking for,” said Pellon. “Taps’ is a very somber moment and we want to make sure that feeling is portrayed to the audience.”
The ceremony featured several guest speakers who spoke about the meaning of Memorial Day and had many kind words to say about the sacrifices American troops make on a daily basis. One speaker, North Carolina governor Beverly Perdue, took the time to thank each military branch and its troops, including Marines serving in the area.
“If you go to either Camp Lejeune or Cherry Point you see proud and mighty Marines who are willing to fight wherever,” said Perdue. “These are the men and women – just like you and me, men and women who sign up, it’s a totally volunteer group – that give their lives for us every day.”
The band’s Marines are familiar with playing at public events said Pellon, but being able to perform on Memorial Day is something for which he is especially grateful.
“Somebody has to be there to carry on these traditions,” said Pellon “That’s what we do and we’re very fortunate – It’s a special moment that not everybody gets to experience.”