MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
“This is for all the hard core fans!” yelled a Marine as he and others from the 2nd Marine Division Band played one last song through strong winds and heavy rain at a community park in Winston-Salem, N.C. June 18, 2011.
The town had requested the Marines to play for their annual celebration of ‘1st Presidents Day’, a day honoring George Washington’s visit to the town. If it was professionally-orchestrated patriotic music the town was looking for, indeed they got it. The band even included a few Mardi Gras songs to give the audience a taste of something different.
For their last few songs, approximately eight Marines jumped off stage and performed just a few feet from the audience. Jumping around like rock stars with their instruments in hand, some Marines sang to the audience and even reached out to the crowd.
As the rain grew stronger however, the Marines were forced to cut the concert short.
“I personally haven’t seen something like this (sudden rain on a show) before, it was fun,” said Staff Sgt. Mark A. Pellon, a wood wind chief for the band. “I think our performance had a good impact on the community. My singing was cool, but I was happy with how the band played as a whole. A musical group isn’t defined by one person.”
As the concert ended, fans showed their appreciation with cheers and applause. Many walked up and thanked the Marines not only for their performance, but their military service as well. The goodbyes had to be cut short as well as the rain increased its viciousness, and drenched the entire band from head to toe and threatened wrecking their musical instruments.
Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Dwyer an enlisted conductor with the band explained what makes it all worthwhile is performing for people who appreciate their music. Dwyer also stated there was a woman in the audience that lost her husband in the Vietnam War and was moved by their playing of, ‘God Bless the USA.’
“We’re musical ambassadors for the Marine Corps,” said Dwyer. “If we can change just one person's mind about the Corps (toward a good light) we did our job. We definitely did that today.”
Drenched in rain water, the Marines quickly changed and enjoyed a late lunch provided by the townspeople. During the meal, the praises rained down on the Marines nearly as heavily as the rain had. Many of the concert attendees asked the Marines if they would return again. As their visit wrapped up, the Marines boarded their bus promising the Winston citizens, with smiles, that they would return.