Patriotic sounds fill the air

July 04, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - For about a month, it's almost impossible to miss them. "America the Beautiful." "Yankee Doodle." Just about everything by John Philip Sousa.

Patriotic tunes fill the television and radio airwaves in commercials and July Fourth concert specials, and school and community bands dust off their sheet music for people who crave it.

Gary Glessner, 38, of Greencastle admits he's one who can't get enough. "God Bless America" is his favorite.

"I don't get tired of it," Glessner said. "You only get that short period of time, like a month, month and a half, then it's back to work."


Glessner, who came Saturday with his family to Tayamentasachta (TAY-a-MENT-a-SACK-ta) Environmental Center in Greencastle, was among about 200 people there for the town's July Fourth celebration.

There was plenty of food, snow cones, Uncle Sam-style top hats, American flags and other July Fourth staples at the park. For those wanting to hear a slice of Americana, the music didn't disappoint.

Bluegrass, gospel, classic marches and modern music rang throughout the park, bringing both smiles and tears to the audience members.

"It would be pretty boring without music," said Bonnie Shockey, who first put on the July Fourth celebration in the park two years ago and is one of the organizers.

Pat Beard, 52, is the director of the Greencastle Area Community Band. She said she chose music that was military-based and scores that had local appeal.

A medley the community band played had bits of the official Army and Navy songs and "America the Beautiful." The band also played other favorites such as "Amazing Grace."

"Every time they play it, I get chills," Beard said. "It's just - oooo - sounds good."

Connie Bishop plays bass clarinet for the band. She said she has a special attachment to the holiday: Her birthday is July 3, and her brother's is July 10. On the Fourth, they always had a huge, joint birthday party.

She grew up playing music, and now plays in two concert bands and sometimes plays piano for her church. But patriotic music on the Fourth somehow is different, she said.

"It just really stirs your emotions," Bishop said. "Everyone can feel what they want with their own heart.

"It wouldn't be the same without it."

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