Friday, May 3, 2013
I received the nicest email from Georgetown native Frances Joyner Gorsuch. She and I were at Winyah High School together. She sent me a letter she found on the Georgetown County Digital Library website (GCDL), and it made me cry. It made her cry, it made her husband cry, so get ready to cry.
The letter was published in The Georgetown Times on April 23, 1959.
It was sent to Mayor Sylvan L. Rosen, who passed it on to Times editor and publisher Tom Davis.
It was written by U.S. Army Sgt. Raymond S. Drummond. Drummond photographed sporting and other events and submitted them to local service publications.
He had just attended the 1959 Cherry Blossom Festival band competition in Washington, D.C., where the Winyah High School band was attempting to defend their 1st place titles from previous years.
(Because this letter is so long, I’m only able to reproduce part of it here.)
“On 9 April at 1100 hours in the National Guard Armory in Washington, D.C. I was covering the High School bands during their contest ... As my information began to take shape, I found that there existed some sort of anxiety about a small band from Georgetown, S.C. Bigger ... bands from as far away as Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maryland were eyeing this little 58 piece outfit warily and with some apprehension.”
“Competition out on the main floor was keen – the bigger, flashier bands were good, poised and competent. How could this little group with its contingent of very young members, many of them untried in competition, ever hope to compete against the other units present?”
“I began to learn this wasn’t just a High School band, it was more, it was a bright and sparkling exhibit of community effort. I could see the years of work by parents who had loved and cherished these children as they grew. I could see the efforts of the church where the children prayed for guidance before they went on that Armory floor, I could see the intense desire to win if they could.”
“A few quiet words from Mr. Jacobus brought order ... the band, your band, went out on the floor. They looked wonderful in their uniforms of red and white and yet so small in the center of the huge building, how could they ever hope to challenge their competitors?”
“Even as I watched some unsporting cat calls and boos drifted down upon them, I wondered how this might effect the younger members like little Ricky Powers who was sporting a large shiner ... and way down inside I said a tiny prayer for your band and I felt that win, lose, or draw I would write this letter to the people of Georgetown so they could know.”
“How proud I was of your children, when only half way thru their routine they were receiving standing applause from their competition. How splendidly they wheeled and counter marched!”
“Through all their movements pride shone thru, pride in themselves, their school, their churches, their parents, their city and their state. I cried for them, big tears too, and without shame. As an old soldier now, and after two wars, if I were asked why I had fought, I wouldn’t need to think of an answer; I would just remember those boys and girls of the Winyah High School Band. I fought for people like those kids ... God bless each one of them ... I salute you parents, teachers, churches and community.”
By the way, Winyah scored big ... First place drill and second place parade.
To Frances and to the GCDL ... thanks for the memories.
I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.