Photo by Tim Collins, WBCK
Photo by Tim Collins, WBCK
Fireworks are fun. Airshows are fun.  Both are pretty loud.   The beach is usually fun.  But my favorite tradition for Independence Day is the Old-Time Fourth of July at the Brooks Memorial Fountain in Marshall.   It’s definitely a throwback to another era, sponsored by Oaklawn Hospital.  
They shut down traffic to the roundabout downtown, and the kids get decked out in patriotic garb and have a parade around and around the circle with bikes and pets.   
Meanwhile, the entire circle around the fountain fills up with lawn chairs and blankets, and the Marshall Rotary Band sets up for a concert.   The band has been around for 37 years, and is one of the finest community bands around.  They started off with the national anthem and a Sousa march, and a special arrangement of “God of Our Fathers”, first played at President Reagan’s inauguration in 1981. 
Former Marshall Band Director David Conklin was back for a visit from Pennsylvania, and was featured as a director and also as a trumpet soloist. 
One of the highlights of the concert was the Marshall Band Director’s Trumpet Trio.  It featured Conklin, current directory Jeremy Root, and Dr. Ross VanNess, who was the Marshall Band Director all through the 1960’s.  The trio played a piece by Leonard Meretta, the longtime WMU professor who taught Dr. VanNess, and was one of my old teachers as well. 
At intermission, we enjoyed a delicious grilled chicken dinner.   The highlight of the concert was a tremendous arrangement of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, featuring the vocal quartet of Alan Elliott, Randy Lake, Shawn Westbrook, and George Youngdahl.  The band also played the theme song of each branch of the Armed Forces, and veterans of each stood while the crowd applauded.  It brings a tear every year.  The band wrapped up with Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” 
From toddlers to centenarians, the entire Marshall Community comes out for this event to show their pride and unity, and to honor America.  Goosebumps.