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Air Force band performance inspired by spirit of warriors

June 09, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - The program for Sunday afternoon's concert by the U.S. Air Force Concert Band was inspired by the "warrior ethos," a concept not foreign to the nearly 200 people who braved 95-degree heat to attend the concert at Hagerstown Community College's outdoor Alumni Amphitheater.

"That ethos may be defined as a hardiness of spirit, and a physical and moral courage, and you all, by attending this concert, have shown a lot of that," said Maj. Keith Bland, the band's commander.

The concert was Bland's last one as commander of the Washington, D.C.-based band, Master Sgt. Phil Krzywicki said. Bland has been appointed the commander of the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West at Travis Air Force Base in California, he said.

Bland said it will be difficult to leave the Washington band.

"To just have the opportunity to stand in front of these fellows was really a lifelong dream," he said.

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Audience members at Sunday's concert gathered on the shady half of the amphitheater's seats, held umbrellas for shade or set up folding chairs under a neighboring tree.

"Considering the weather, we had a nice crowd," organizer Ronald Wayne Taylor said.

Many in the audience were veterans or military families and stood when the band played their branch's theme song.

Jim Leatherman, 78, of Williamsport, a retired Air Force technical sergeant, also murmured the words to the Gettysburg Address along with the narrator, who introduced the band's rendition of "The Last Final Measure of Devotion."

Leatherman said he grew up listening to patriotic music and marches.

"It gets your spirits up," he said.

The concert was part of the Hagerstown Community College Alumni Association's annual Red, White and Blue summer concert series. The next concert will be by the U.S. Air Force Brass Quintet at 4 p.m. June 15.

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