Marines

Camp Lejeune bandmembers tour Djibouti

18 Feb 2003 | Cpl. Matthew J. Apprendi

Five members from the 2d Marine Division Band, Camp Lejeune, N.C, toured through the countryside playing concerts for a local orphanage and an elementary school here Feb.18.

The band members were in the area to perform at the American National Day in Djibouti Feb. 17 and at the National Day in Ethiopia Feb. 20. They traveled to Ethiopia with Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa who was invited to the festivities and arranged for the band to perform there.

Before they left for Ethiopia, the band first visited an orphanage where more than 100 Djiboutian children gathered around the brass quintet.

Master Sgt. Mathew Boatright, quintet bandmaster, asked the children,  "Do you like soft or loud music?" 

Without a hesitation - they roared for loud music..

"Just seeing all of the smiling faces on the kids made this the kind of day we will remember all of our lives," Boatright said.

The children seemed to welcome the mid-morning break -- cheers ran rampant as the band continued to play for more than an hour.

Each band member gave a solo performance. One played an American favorite, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," written in 1908 by Jack Norworth.

"It's one of the first times they have heard this type of music - a very good learning experience for the children," said Abdi Aden Farah, director of the orphanage where beginning at the age of 15, the children also learn different trades ranging from masonry to engine mechanics.

The tour continued at a nearby elementary school in Dorale. This crowd was even livelier than the other with students jumping, clapping and dancing to the band's rhythm. Even the camels and goats, freely roaming about, took a peek inside to see what the ruckus was about.

At the end of the performance, the children wanted to show their appreciation to the Marines. Or maybe they just wanted to show they too have an artistic side. The children brought out colorful pieces of pottery they made themselves. Some Marines were lucky enough to take some of the pottery home - compliments of the children.

"Days like this one break down the misconception that we are only good for war," Boatright said. "We can put smiles on faces too."
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