There are partnerships that just seem to work. Ben & Jerry’s, Briggs & Stratton, ham & cheese, bananas and peanut butter (trust me, it’s awesome), the list is endless. For the Windward Choral Society, the one that rises above all the rest is with our dear friends from Kaneohe, the Marine Forces Pacific Band. Under the direction of CWO3 Bryan Sherlock, they have answered our call for musicians every time we’ve asked. Six different sets of concerts, over a dozen performances total, they’ve blessed us with their talent and professionalism.

They’re a busy bunch with over 400 performances each year and it’s always amazed me that they can find time for our concerts. We’ve been joined by brass, percussion, a wild-and-awesome party band; they bring whatever we need and ALWAYS arrive rehearsed and ready. We’ve done our best to return the favor with concerts at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii Chapel and multiple joint concerts as part of the base Christmas tree lighting ceremony. That particular event means a lot to us as we see the bleachers filling with families and note how many of them are just mom and the kids. Dad is a Marine and Christmas will have to wait while he’s defending our country.

That’s something that always comes to mind when the MARFORPAC band joins us. Sure, there are instruments and music and fun but that uniform is a reminder of what these talented Marines stand for. They’re more than just our partners, they’re part of a larger force that all stood and raised their right hand and pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. As promised in the Marine hymn, they are “first to fight for right and freedom” and we’re reminded of that every time CWO3 Sherlock brings his troops to join us.

It’s difficult to know how to thank them sometimes. It often feels like a “thank you” and a handshake are completely inadequate to express our true gratitude to the fighting force that the MARFORPAC band represents. Over 180,000 men and women have volunteered to be part of a mission that is both simple and profound:

“We make Marines.
We win our nation’s battles.
We develop quality citizens.”

And all under a banner more profound than those three goals: “Semper Fideles, Always Faithful”.

There’s nothing like a Marine and we’re proud to know you, thank you and make music with you. You are all part of the reason that we can gather and sing and express ourselves freely and there is nothing more precious that that freedom.