Memorial Day Weekend - 2010 Begins

Alumnus Dave Shaw chronicles his Cadets' Memorial Day Weekend

Written and distributed by Alumnus Dave Shaw following the Cadets Memorial Day weekend of events on May 30-31 in Northern New Jersey. 

WOW!” Such a tiny word. Just three letters. Yet if I was limited to just one word to describe The Cadets’ Memorial Day weekend, that’s the word I would choose.  

The Memorial Mass at the Church of the Most Holy Name was the first WOW!  There were fewer alumni present than there were last year (shame on you), but a lot more parishioners…and everyone present seemed to be totally WOWed. The Church was adorned by an abundance of flowers, some generously donated by the Nikischer family once again, others donated by a parish family in memory of a lost one, but all in the maroon, white, and gold of Holy Name. Doc Cinzio, Greg Cinzio, and The Reverend Monsignor James Reilly put in a lot of work for several months to ensure that our deceased Cadets and our military veterans were properly honored. Thanks to all three for their efforts. 

The Mass began with a drum roll on a historical rope drum played by Bob Messineo. Bob’s Dad was one of the original members of The Cadets, while Bob himself was a proud member of The Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights, one of our respected competitors and rivals in years gone by. The drum roll was immediately followed by a fanfare arranged and played by George King, based on the opening stanza of The Holy Name Hymn. 

Following the final phrase of the fanfare the Holy Name Church organist immediately began playing “America the Beautiful” as the clergy procession proceeded down the aisle. Immediately following the clergy, led by Monsignor Reilly, was a flag party consisting of an American Flag with rifles on either side, all carried by alumni drafted to replace the military representatives who, for whatever reason, were not present. My most sincere thanks to these three great Cadets for answering our call for assistance. 

In front of the altar was a memory table, covered by a shawl worn by Karen Corman when she performed in the 1984 World Championship performance of West Side Story… the show that many to this day consider the greatest drum corps production of all time. Positioned on the table was an unlit candle. The flag party moved into position behind the table facing the congregation as three uniformed 2010 Cadets moved down the aisle. The first Cadet, Sheila Heady, carried a single white rose. The two Cadets following, Tom Wilson and Mike Daley, carried items with heavy historical significance. One carried an original mounted Holy Name Cadet crest, and the other a shako representing all the Cadets we have lost and still mourn. Upon reaching the table the items were arranged on either side of the candle. 

Following The Cadets in the procession was another alumnus, Ken Shedosky, carrying a replica of the sabers presented to the Cadets sometime around 1940 by an officer representing The Military Academy at West Point.  Additional alumni participating in the Mass followed the saber carrier. 

Anthony Bartello, Cadet Drum Major 1956-57, moved to the table and lit the memory candle as the uniformed Cadets positioned on either side executed the salute-to-a-fallen-comrade, slow-motion salute. 

All present in the church were then asked to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag. 

Monsignor Reilly welcomed all present, and in his usual jovial manner welcomed us back “to the scene of the crime.” You have to be familiar with Cadet history to catch the meaning, but it brought a smile to the face ofall who knew the piece of history involved. 

The celebration of the Mass then proceeded, with many of the participants Cadet Alumni. 

Following the solemn celebration of communion, the son of Tony Bartello honored us with a beautifully sung vocal tribute to Cadets who, though no longer with us, are not forgotten, as well as all American veterans past and present. The uniformed Cadets once again moved into position around the memory table and once again executed the majestic salute-to-a-fallen-comrade. 

Following this tribute Tony Bartello led all alumni present in the singing of The Holy Name Hymn, and following the final “Amen” of our song, he extinguished the candle on the memory table.  

The recessional then moved down the aisle to the stirring music of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with percussion accompaniment by Bob Messineo. Our uniformed 2010 Cadets, carrying the symbolic items used throughout the Mass, brought up the rear of the procession, as Cadet Alumni  on either side of the aisle beamed with pride. 

The Mass was solemn, it was beautiful, it was inspiring, and it was a WOW experience of the highest order. 

I had the good fortune to be assigned to drive the Cadets who had participated in the Mass back to the corps’ rehearsal site, and when I asked them their reaction to the experience I was stunned and emotionally touched to hear them tell me how much of an honor they felt it was to be a part of something so important. 

A reception followed at the VFW Hall in Garfield. We were only able to stop in for a minute to drop off the rifles generously loaned to us by the VFW, since I had promised to get the three Cadets back to their rehearsal site as soon as possible; but, something happened when we walked into the hall that once again made me soar with pride to be a part of our corps. As the three Cadets popped in just to say hello, all the alumni present broke out in spontaneous applause and cheers. It was one of those moments that you could only describe as WOW! 

The day and the WOWs were not over yet though. Later that afternoon a 5:00 PM reception had been planned by The Cadets to precede their “Evening With The Cadets” Concert at Pequannock High School. I arrived a bit early, and was immediately hit with the smell of garlic. I followed my nose to the source and there was Greg Pych, John Avella, and their team of volunteers and even a professional chef, serving “a light supper” to our Cadets. The menu? How does sliced beefsteak on garlic toast points and linguini with crab legs and shrimp sound? 

For the rest of us it was into the reception in the school cafeteria where Caryn Goebel and her crew had worked their magic once again. The food was good, the beverages cold, and the atmosphere charged with comradeship and anticipation of what was to come. 

At the appointed hour we were ushered into the auditorium, which incidentally was packed by about equal numbers of alumni and their families, Cadets’ parents and families, and parents , friends, and families of members of the Pequannock High School Jass Ensemble (who incidentally were sensational). None present really knew what to expect. What the Cadets delivered was the biggest WOW of the entire weekend. They are sensational my fellow alumni. I know I say that every year, and it’s absolutely true every year; however, we have 90 new Cadets this year. Who could possibly have expected  what we witnessed? 

Between the early segments of the concert there was an event of great importance and significance. Art Mura, a Cadet of many years in the early part of our corps’ history, and a Cadet Alumnus who went on to become a respected judge and instructor, was inducted as the first Legacy Member of The Cadets’ Hall of Fame. He joined his brother Al who was inducted into the Cadets’ HOF in 2009. The Mura family has long been respected as the “royal family” of The Cadets, for the role Mura family members played throughout the first forty years of our history. It is with great pride and admiration that all Cadets, past and present, offer their thanks to Art, and Al, and all the Mura family, for all they have done and all they continue to do. 

The evening was well-paced featuring The Cadets playing a variety of spectacularly performed numbers they use for encores, The Pequannock High School jazz Ensemble rocking our world, several dance segments by our color guard that were on the highest level of professionalism both in design and execution, and then a much needed break.  

Following the break we resettled into our seats and waited impatiently to hear The Cadets’ 2010 musical program for the first time. It’s at moments like this that the impact of that tiny three letter word WOW! Really reaches full potential. OK, so the deal is this. The Cadets are sensational. They have no weak sections, and WOW can they play. That was the WOW that made the first part of the evening such a WOW. It’s their 2010 musical program though that blew the roof off the Pequannock HS Auditorium. I have spent a lot of time mulling over how much of what I heard I should share with you, and finally decided that it would be unfair to deprive you of the surprise and awe you’re going to experience yourself hearing it for the first time without prior preparation.  

There are simply not enough WOWs in the world to describe it. I will tell you this. I listened to the most majestic and moving field entry I have ever heard. I watched and listened, in stunned amazement, to the greatest percussion feature I have heard in 60 years of drum corps experience, played by what I personally think is the greatest percussion line I’ve heard in my lifetime.  I believe that at the point in the show where the percussion feature begins, audiences at every contest in which The Cadets appear will jump to their feat in amazement and excitement, and they will remain on their feet from that moment on until the completion of the entire Cadets’ performance. Yes, it’s that good. Yes, it’s that amazing. Yes, every single person in that auditorium was on their feet cheering, applauding, and more. Yes, it pushes the definition of WOW to new heights.  

Yes, I am a Cadet partisan, so don’t allow me to influence your judgement. Watch and listen for yourself, and form your own opinion. All I can tell you is that in my opinion the drum corps world is about to witness one of the greatest drum corps programs ever conceived, performed by a corps fully up to the task of performing it to maximum potential. 

The day following the events at Pequannock  was Memorial Day. The Cadets had two early morning parades which I missed since I was busy with last minute arrangements for the pizza party the alumni caps-for-cadets donors always give in honor of each year’s marching Cadets.  The party follows the afternoon parade in Hawthorne, which is pretty much the largest and best attended in North Jersey. This is Caballero territory, and everyone in the borough of Hawthorne is extremely proud of them.  

The Cadets, for many reasons, are a major draw for the parade as well, particularly among Cadet Alumni and alumni of many other area corps, many of which are no longer in existence. Followiing the parade The Cadets, for the past two years, have presented a short concert in front of the reviewing stand to thank the officials and residents of the Borough of Hawthorne for their support and hospitality, to salute The Cadet Alumni present, and to honor all military veterans. I was unable, regretfully, to be present for either their pass-by in the parade or their post-parade concert. That’s the price you pay when you’re the commander in chief of pizza. 

At the conclusion of their post-parade concert The Cadets returned to their buses to remove their uniforms and change into their corps shirts and cutoffs, before returning to American Legion Post #199 (home of The Caballeros) for the big party. We try to do it up right for them, because in all honesty, our alumni and our kids are in love with each other, and there is absolutely nothing our alumni wouldn’t do, if they could, to support our corps and our kids. 

The group of alumni waiting patiently in the hall for the kids to return immediately descend on their 2010 counterparts, and soon as the kids began entering the hall, the questions and good wishes and compliments began.  

This year there were a huge variety of ice cold beverages waiting, plus sufficient pizza for a herd of elephants (all of which was devoured), followed by all the italian lemon ice they wanted.  

Distingquished alumni representatives distribute the caps we present to each year’s corps members as a symbol of our respect, our admiration, our support and our solidarity. 

After all the food has been eaten, and all the bonding has been achieved, the alumni gather in front of the newest Corps of Cadets to sing, in their honor, our hymn of pride and glory, O Holy Name. Then we watch sadly as the young men and young women we have just adopted as our own move out to their buses to return to Johnstown, PA for several more weeks of pre-season rehearsal. 

We know there are more WOWs to come, but it sure is hard to envision how they could be better than the ones we just experienced…though of course we all know they will be. After all we have a WOW corps, with WOW kids, a WOW show for 2010, and a WOW staff.  

My fellow alumni, dig deep into your wallets to make sure these wonderful kids have everything they could possibly need. Offer your services as volunteers on the road so you can spend as much time as possible with a group of Cadets who are going to make you glow with pride with every interaction you have with them. If nothing else get out there to see them perform as they travel across the country, because when you do you’re going to be WOWed like you’ve never been WOWed before. 

One final word to our 2010 Cadets.  You have already won with us, the alumni who were present Memorial Day Weekend, and we don’t have a doubt in the world that you’re going to have people on their feet cheering your performances everywhere you travel. There will be some who for reasons that have nothing to do with you or your achievements or your performances will choose to act out their grievances inappopriately, and there will be judges who score you in ways beyond understanding.  Come what may look over your shoulder and you will see the ghosts of your history and heritage behind you, and we will be saying, “Thank you, you do us proud.” Good luck and safe journey 2010 Cadets. Now you too belong to the ages. 

For Holy Name shall always be…


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