One of the saddest notes that has been played lately is the news that the Albany Marine Band will be disbanding later this month.
Anyone who has heard this group of talented warfighters will attest to the group's high performance standards that are achieved each performance. As the band has traveled and performed, it has served as a wonderful ambassador for both Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany and the Albany-Dougherty County community. Whether performing in a concert hall or traveling around Albany in small groups of four at Christmas time to play impromptu carols for businesses, these Marines performed expertly and flawlessly.
The Albany Marine Band, which has been one of the Corps' best groups since its formation in 1990, is going out on top. For two consecutive years -- 2010 and 2011 -- it was named the Marine Corps' Band of the Year out of the 12 Marine bands. In addition, the Albany band won the Marine Corps' award for best live recording in 2011.
The reason for the losses of the band here and the Marine band at Twentynine Palms is simple -- funding. Like most other federal departments, Defense is seeing budget cuts and is having to react. One of those cost-saving moves has been to contract the 12 Marine Corps bands into 10. It is an unsatisfying reason for Albany to be losing this fine group of musical ambassadors, but it is reality.
Already, the band's personnel are being prepared for their next duties. Usually 50 strong, the Albany Marine Band now has 38 members as it prepares for its final performances this month.
According to organizers of this Saturday's decommissioning ceremony of the Broad Avenue Bridge, which is dedicated to military personnel who served our nation in World War I, the band is expected to perform at that 1 p.m. ceremony.
On Tuesday -- Valentine's Day -- the Albany Marine Band will perform a final, free concert for the community at the Municipal Auditorium. The auditorium, home of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, is a wonderful music venue, and certainly one worthy of hosting this bittersweet performance as our Marines bid farewell to the community. That concert is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
The final notes by the Albany Marine Band are expected to be struck when it is formally deactivated on Feb. 24.
We hope that the community will give these talented Marines the send-off they deserve. They will be missed, and will always be appreciated.