Navy Band concert a tribute to citizens

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

By David Vitrano


RESERVE – As part of the local celebration to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, St. John Theatre hosted the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Band Saturday night.

Mike Brooks, who heads the theater’s Planning Committee, said, “I thought, ‘Let’s do something for the community,’” adding, “9/11 had such an effect on all of us.”

Because the event was meant to give back to the community, admission to the concert was free.

The evening’s conductor, Trae Cummings, said the main purpose of the band is to support recruiting efforts and play at change-of-command ceremonies as well as to perform in Mardi Gras parades. He said the band only plays about a dozen or so special events such as Saturday’s per year.

Still, Cummings seemed pleased to be included in the 9/11 commemoration.

“It does make it more special,” he said. “It’s kind of our way of giving back to the first responders.”

The show, in fact, started with a general recognition of all the first responders present — after the national anthem, of course.

Capt. Mike Hoover of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office was the master of ceremonies for the evening, and he began the proceedings with a stirring reading of the poem “One” by Cheryl Sawyer. The poem, which accurately captures the patriotic feelings of the average American 10 years ago, reads in part, “We are? one color?, one class, one generation, one gender, one faith, one language, one body, one family, one soul, one people?.”

It was a fitting way to begin the program, as the patriotic songs that followed personified the words.

Some of the songs, such as “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America” are so familiar to the average American that many in the audience mouthed the words as the band played. Other songs, such as the ceremonial marches, which temporarily transformed the theater into Main Street America, have names that escape the average person but beats and tunes that seem to stir something intangible in the American soul. Indeed, although the night marked a rather sober occasion, the tone of the evening was one of celebrating the American spirit and the American people.

As St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom said in her welcoming speech, “This is a night to remember what it takes and what it means to be an American.”