"You play in a Navy band? What do you really do?"
"You guys sound pretty good--you could be professionals."
"It must be soft duty, just marching around and tooting your flute."
It becomes pointless to argue. People believe what they want to believe.
But we Navy musicians know what the job is. And we know that the job, like any other in the Navy, can be dangerous. All of Band 22 died at their battle stations on the USS Arizona. A contingent of the Navy Band died in a plane crash en route to Rio de Janiero. In war and in peace, in these places and in others, Navy musicians have made that which is so poetic and so heartbreaking: the ultimate sacrifice.
We are not proud of this. The tragedy that befalls a shipmate is never a cause of pride. To the contrary, it invites sober reflection on the fact that accidents and enemies don't care about the insignia on your rating badge; they will claim with equal disregard boatswains, pilots, gunner's mates and musicians.
On this Memorial Day, we remember the bandsmen who gave their all. Although we may never have met them, we have shared their history, their stories, their duties. In this, we can, indeed, take a measure of pride.
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!