Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Farewell Concert on the Town Common

Color guard at the beginning
A concert on our picturesque town common in Grafton has been a Fourth of July tradition for 33 years.  Yesterday, all day, citizens placed their lawn chairs on the site around the white bandstand that dates from 1935 when the town center was used for the movie “Ah Wilderness”.  By 7:30 when the concert began, there was hardly any room left for children to play and do cartwheels.

For the past eight years the U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty from Hanscom Air Force Base has performed the annual concert, sponsored by the Grafton Lions Club.  It’s the perfect American small town celebration--men dressed in antique military uniforms firing the  cannons, scaring the children and pets who have gathered.  Traditionally the 1812 Overture has been the climax of the evening, with plenty of cannon fire.
                                                                                    Waiting for the Start
Since we have friends and relatives from as far away as Greece and Nicaragua gathering here to celebrate the baptism of granddaughter Amalia on Sunday, we made sure to  secure  places at last night’s concert so they could see a real American Fourth. It was bittersweet, because this was the farewell of the band, which has been performing for military and civilian audiences throughout the Northeast for over a quarter century.
                                                      The Air Force Band of Liberty
As the Grafton paper explained, budget cuts have affected the band and after this year, they will be disbanded and relocated to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, where they will be incorporated into the musical program there.
                                                                                     The  Bandstand
Last night the Common was filled to overflowing and the cannons started booming right at the start with The Star Spangled Banner.  After musical selections that were classical, patriotic, and even “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, and heartfelt comments from the band's leader, the evening ended with The Stars and Stripes Forever as most of the audience stood to honor friends and loved ones who have served in the military.
                               Even the cannons didn't wake up granddaughter Amalía.  Grafton Inn in the background.

As lawn chairs were gathered and the crowd dispersed  I heard  some of the younger people thanking elderly vets for their service to our country.
A vet listening
Even pets paid attention
It was a moving tribute to our military and to a band that has delighted our New England village over the years, and we left the Common, headed for a nearby fireworks display, feeling proud and  privileged to have been a part of it.

SPEAKING OF RITUALS:  An essay by daughter Eleni Gage Baltodano is currently featured on the  Martha Stewart Living” blog.  It mentions four of Eleni’s favorite rituals, and  includes a shout-out to Grafton’s Fourth of July, photos of baby Amalia and her two grandmas, as well as a Greek tradition: Orthodox Easter,  a Nicaraguan tradition: visiting the nativity scenes at Christmas, and  an Indian tradition: Holi, which figures in Eleni's new novel; Other Waters.  To read  Eleni’s essay click here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have recently begun reading your daughter's blog....and am delighted to find yours! I look forward to reading more of your writings! By the by, I see that your photo was taken when you were on family home-island...niiice!