by Jamie Myrose
After a cumulative 41 days of music over the course of the last four years, I put on my shako on for the final time as the Eagles stormed the field to face the NC State Wolfpack. If you had asked me in high school, I never would have predicted all that the Boston College Marching Band (BCMB) has done for me. I would not have even thought of joining the Band. My small, all-girls high school did not have a band of any kind, and I had never touched a bass drum before arriving at Chestnut Hill. Yet that did not stop the BCMB from welcoming me into their family and helping me develop into a person who can truly call herself a musician.
Among other traditions, the BCMB recites Psalm 150 and sings “Amazing Grace” before every football game (let no one overlook the great fortune of having people with a sense of pitch perform this old hymn!). During my final rendition of these pieces, I finally realized the underlying theme that unites them: both are songs of gratitude.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I stop for a moment to consider how lucky I am to have my needs met and interests cultivated. In a culture where so many of our desires are at our fingertips, it becomes easy to forget the work and sacrifice that goes into providing these goods and services. A lack of gratitude will eventually lead to a sense of entitlement, which proves dangerous to our relationships—especially with those in need of our help. Please do not misunderstand me; there are plenty of people who are able to raise themselves to a higher standard of living through hard work, and their efforts should be commended. But an issue surfaces when we assume that our societal structures allows this to be attained by everyone. Rather, societal injustices require that the community comes together to support those who are marginalized and in need. This begins when we demand that they too deserve the same opportunities and comforts afforded to those born into privilege. Those in power and security must realize what they owe to those whose labor makes the latter’s way of life convenient.
Thus I return to gratitude. If we engage in honest reflection on the many gifts we have and our debts to others, it becomes far more difficult to marginalize one another. The barriers between “us” and “them” start to fall away when we begin to see ourselves as a united community rather than the “haves” and the “have nots.” But most importantly, we begin to initiate the changes necessary to destroy social inequalities. A simple thank-you note to a stranger who has helped you can be the first step to making that person no longer a stranger.
So, let this article be my thank-you note to the BCMB. Thank you for teaching me the beauty that resides in quarter notes and for developing my musical capabilities to the point at which I can take pride in my work. Thank you for demonstrating to me the importance of dedication and how the things that truly matter are never easy. Thank you for fostering a community of likeminded individuals who value excellence in every aspect of their lives. Thank you for taking the time to remember all that we are given by God and responding with a song of gratitude. In the words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Let all that has breath give praise to the Lord.