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I am not a crier. That probably does not come as much of a shock to hear, but let me just get it out in the open. I have some deep convictions that stir strong emotions in me but very rarely do I go all weepy. So, I was surprised when, on a morning a couple of weeks ago, I was tearing up over a video of a few kids and their inspired mentors trying to put together a marching band.
For years I have seen successive generations of these kids practicing their drums on the railroad tracks off of Government Street. It was always one of those quixotic sights that I take immense pleasure in, a little fleeting serendipity that brought joy to my regular commute. I have learned to not delve to deeply into these sorts of sightings, the Black Chicken of Beauregard, the inner city cowboy, the guy with the dogs on his bicycle. My approach has always been that life occasionally presents us with wondrous little vignettes into the lives of strangers and that the pleasure is just in the seeing. Like putting a snowflake under a microscope, the light and heat of analysis always seemed to destroy the beauty of the thing.
Thankfully, not all of my friends have the same approach. While on a photographic assignment to capture just these sorts of scenes for a local magazine, my good friend Brian Baiamonte stumbled across these drummers. After many nights spent editing the footage that he and a few others had accumulated, a short documentary about the aspirations of the Greater Baton Rouge Marching Drum Corps and Starette Dancers was crafted and uploaded for the world to see. The Corps was trying to raise money to outfit the kids for a Mardi Gras parade in Shreveport and their dignified but threadbare plea was quickly answered. They raised the money they needed in just a few days.
This was incredibly encouraging to witness, but we all know that their needs won’t end there. Having seen first hand the precarious situation many of these children find themselves in and also having seen how something like the Drum Corp can profoundly and directly effect lives, it became clear that this was the sort of project that I could support without reservation. It remains to be seen what our community can do to fully back this little group, but I am hopeful about where things are headed. Their current drive has been fully funded, but their need continues. Just because they have reached their goal doesn’t mean you can’t still donate!
Driving down Government Street this Martin Luther King Day, the Drum Corp and Dancers were out practicing near the tracks. I had not seen them since the video was shared around so I stopped my truck and took some pictures. I thought that all the blubbering was over, but I was wrong. I say this without shame and, in fact, I say it with tremendous thankfulness. I am fortunate to have such beauty in my life, to hear the echo of the bass drum off far brick walls, to see the children with their hoods drawn against the wind, beating out the rhythm of life and hope under a blue winter sky. But there I was, crying again over these kids and their drums. It doesn’t happen often, but I would count myself as a lucky man if everyday moved me as deeply.
Click here to view the video and see how you can help.