Story and photos by Mike Tripp, contributor
With JMU’s Marching Royal Dukes’ halftime performance already underway during Saturday’s football game, band alumni stormed Zane Showker Field, merging ranks with current members and taking up the tune.
The last regular season home game always marks the return of MRD alumni, proving that once you join the band, you never leave. It doesn’t matter how long ago you graduated or how old you are; once a Marching Royal Duke, always a Marching Royal Duke.
Together, alumni and current members kick it up a notch, performing “Get it On” – the band’s song of celebration.
“I’m glad that we have so many alumni here who sincerely appreciate everything we do,” director Scott Rikkers said later, after the football team finished off its rout of Richmond. “And to keep it in perspective, what we did today is because of what they did before us.”
“I hope, seniors, that when you come back next year, you are proud of what you see,” he continued. “And in the future, whether it’s two years, five years, 10 or 20, that you continue to see an evolution and to know the evolution continues to happen because of what you did today.”
Things took a turn for the poignant when current and former MRDs returned for the postgame show.
Before another round of “Get it On,” Rikkers recognized graduating seniors with a farewell hug.
“You do not play,” he told them, just before the final song. “You just … be … and enjoy this last “Salvation is Created.”
It’s a song close to past and present band members’ hearts, the last before dismissal, more akin to prayer than performance, led by drum major Cody Logan as the tears flowed.
“This IS the last postgame. This is their last postgame of their MRD career,” Rikkers said of his seniors.
There are no postgame shows in the postseason.
After dismissals, the tuba players swooped in to lighten the mood after the band was dismissed, raising their voices as one.
“This is my tuba! There are many like it, but this one is mine!”
“My tuba is my best friend! It is my life! I must master my tuba as I must master my life!”
“Without me, my tuba is useless! Without my tuba, I am useless!”
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