Allow me to introduce myself. Dummer is the name. I live in a far off place away from the memories of white cross belts and marching feet. I would like to rekindle the light that was the Blue Stars beginning.
In fact, the dream was not just a dream. It became real. It was real people. The philosophy was sincerely employed at no small sacrifice to all. What became, really became worth it. Certainly it was good for La Crosse. Certainly it was good for the majority of young peple involved.
Let me tell you about the beginning. It may help. We believe it is still worthwhile. It is however, worthwhile only in its original mode.
This will not be a historical document, showing step by step achievements or methods for success. It will only show you what lyrics we followed so that you will know what tune your heart should play.
In the beginning, there was but one man. "The Blue Stars" were conceived in the mind of Frank Van Voorhis alone. Frank was and still is my best friend. He brought the idea to my attention. The time, the year, are not important. It was in the beginning.
I was involved with a youth recreation program at the time and knew little or nothing about music in general or junior drum and bugle corps in particular, and I was not interested in learning. Both Frank and myself had spent some time studying for the clergy. This may have had some influence on me as I was intensely interested in contributing in some fashion to the edification of young people. Having been active in sports all my life, sports became my vehicle. This was a vehicle I knew how to use. Although I turned a deaf ear to Frank's exhortations to become involved with his junior drum corps notion, he persisted for over a year.
I guess the theme that he finally utilized to win me over was this: "There are hundreds of government and privately funded recreation programs for the sports-oriented youngsters, but almost nothing for those interested in music. A junior drum corps can fill that roll." I believed him and we began to develop what was now a joint adventure.
There were always two parts to the basic concept in the formation of "The Blue Star Jr. Drum & Bugle Corps." The first part had to do with the fact that the vehicle, the corps itself, had to be fashioned to excellence. Not La Crosse exellence, not area exellence, but national excellence. We could be competetitive with the world, not just competitive to participate, but competitive to win. We felt as long as they keep score, it would be less than a good learning experience for members if the vehicle effort would be satistied with no less than a winning performance. To demand this type of effort of youth members dedicated a further conceptual decision. We would make sure that what we demanded could be reached with honest effort. We would not be satisfied with less than the best tools. Both tools in the form of equipment and tools in the form of instruction and leadership. The drum corps would not be started until these things were possible. We accepted no local advice beyond basic, general information. Locally nothing ever had been proven successful. We began by bringing in outside proven knowledge.
To start the ball rolling we formed a color guard and marched them in parades. Frank read, studied, researched and taught marching and manuevering. Even I worked with the B squad as our membership swelled. We began to enter color guard contests and we began to win. Our growing color guard success however, was offset by the fact neither of us was financially able to sustain such an effort with only our private funds.
My wife made our first flag, which had emblazoned on its sides "Blue Star Jr. Drum & Bugle Corps", putting that hope obviously in front of every formation even though we were only a color guard. We dreamed up the colors, the theme, and the uniform at my kitchen table using my kids coloring crayons to depict what we saw in the future...and we finally achieved financial support and produced the corps.
The second part of our junor corps philosophy and the more important in the long run, was that each member must experiece a positive learning experience. We wanted the corps to be a community within a community. A community where all the citizens would have a chance to better prepare themselves for the future. If we were to play music then we would teach legitimate music. We didn't want a member to be only a bugle player, but a musician. We would use the precision needed for drum corps as a structural concept that would be projected to everything in a member's future quest to find out how he would contribute to society. We wound not practice drum corps for drum corps sake alone. That would be a hollow goal and not worthy of the time and effort demanded of all to reach the level of vehicle success we envisioned. There are a goodly number of successful people around who feel may have received some help from this part of the "Blue Star Philosophy."
That's in fact, where our price and memories dwell at this time. Certainly the fun and the success we had are great to remember. However, the traditions were meant to be built on more than that. The soul of the corps was not magnified by the efforts of Frank Van Voorhis or Dave Dummer to make a great junior drum and bugle corps. The spirit of the corps and the guarantee of the corps continuity was manifested in another way. It was found in its' leaders' dedication to the edification of its members. It was found in its' members' dedication to each other and not to personal glorfication. We were not a corps of spiritual soloists. We were a group of people sincerely believing in each other and working and looking forward to the growth and success of those we worked with, and not just in drum corps. No prima donna members here, no self-centered instructors, no egomanic directors. And the corps became great.
The vehicle excelled.
There was only one in the begining: Frank Van Voorhis. Never a group of happy contributors as rose to the surface in succeeding years. I feel proud to have been his partner and hope my contribution helped to enhance the philosophy.
The way I can see the program rising once again to a high level is if those involved recognize and are inspired by the original spirit of the corps, and then put that spirit in a blue uniform with a white cross belt and complete that same sprit with a beautiful white pith helmet. That's the way you carry on the success of the original "Blue Stars".
Both your tradition and corner stone for a successful future are the same. It's not the phenominal success of the drum corps in the past, but the quality of contributions to society the members of those corps are exhibiting now. They are the proof that the soul of the program both individually and collectively constitute the reasons that some rightous privelege of membership should be made available to our young people today. Tell everyone what you stand for, what you believe your program can do, what it's done for you and others, and believe it yourself. Frank and I did in the beginning and thse following us can too!