MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- The Parris Island Marine Band helped usher in the 2005 National Football League season while honoring those who fell victim to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, by giving musical performances during the pre-game and halftime ceremonies at Pro Players Stadium in Miami, Sept. 11.
The band opened the game between the Miami Dolphins and the Denver Broncos with a rendition of the National Anthem that concluded with thunderous applause. The band followed that with a halftime performance of "Stars and Stripes Forever."
Following the game, the band then traveled to Broward Community College near Miami to play a patriotic concert to honor the victims on the fourth anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attacks.
"When I was putting the concert idea together," said Chief Warrant Officer Christian Flores, Parris Island Marine Band officer, "my first instinct was to really honor that day. Rather than do what most would expect and make it a somber moment, to me it was more import to not forget and the programming [reflected that]. The message that we were trying to send was that in spite of September eleventh, we are still one great nation."
These performances are a way to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our nation, as well as to honor those who were lost on Sept. 11, said Flores.
"There were a lot of heroes that perished in the attack," added Flores. "[Bearing that in mind] it is also an awesome time to reflect on the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It is a subtle reminder that even though we have had these great tragedies, and we still may have future mishaps or attacks, we have to stay focused on recent events. With communities coming together and enjoying an evening like this, I think it is a great way for us as a nation to survive a lot of what the future may hold."
The band's ability to take the message of remembrance and bring it to such a large audience is important on such an important day in American history. If the United States has seen the worst of what may happen, or if the worst is yet to come, then doing things like this helps to bind ourselves together as a country, said Flores.
"Having the Marine music program is a good way to tie it all together," he said. "Yes, it is only music, but music tends to speak in ways that words cannot."
According to Sgt. Aaron Fast, a bassist and a nine-year veteran of the Marine music program, "One of our main goals in being in the band is that we like to preserve the traditions and history of the Marine Corps. With us being able to do this on the anniversary of that day, we hopefully will be able to keep the memory of the people who died alive."
That memory will live on, not only in the minds of those who serve and protect the freedoms held so dear in this country, but also to those who were in attendance of the band's patriotic performances.
"In a setting like that you have got to think that a majority of the people don't get exposure to the Marine Corps all that often," said Capt. Noah Marquardt, Service Company commanding officer.
"Unfortunately, in the last couple of months and the last couple of years, anything that they may have heard about the Marine Corps has probably been about what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"This presents the Marine Corps in the light that I think a lot of people never see or see very rarely. Not only are they professional Marines, but they are also professional musicians in kind and they do their job well."
That image was reinforced by every note that came from the instruments that the band played, not only with the public, but also within each Marine.
"To the individual Marine it is a reinforcement of the commitment they made to the Marine Corps," said Flores. "When they hear the crowd appreciate the uniform and they hear the music coming out of those horns with the imagery of the uniforms, I think it is amazing because they get a rush from it. Everything that they believed in to become a Marine in the first place is culminated at that event.
"The other part of that is that the crowd sees all of these images of the Marine Corps of late in combat roles, which are extremely important. With that said, I think it is equally important for them to see the Marine Corps in a different light. It is a way for them to channel their energy and appreciation for all of the armed services, not just the Marine Corps."