CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If you've ever been to an official ceremony honoring veterans or even the Buc Days Parade, you’ve likely seen the Veterans Band of Corpus Christi. From humble beginnings, this band of veterans has persevered and on June 3 celebrated its 35th anniversary.
While they’ve entertained thousands over the years, don’t you dare call them entertainers.
“We're not entertainers, we don't entertain,” said Ram Chavez. “We honor.”
For Chavez, the band's founder and director, every musician both past and present has helped the band become what it is today.
“Everyone here has contributed, it doesn't matter if they were here 35 years ago or five years ago,” said Chavez.
In 1984, Chavez started working on a plan for creating the Veterans Band. He worked that plan for nearly two years. Early challenges included getting instruments for those that didn't have, and finding music everyone could play at an average level.
Twenty-four people showed up for the band's first rehearsal June 3, 1986, including Marine Corps veteran John Earhart, who plays for fallen friends.
“I lost several friends from high School, including my brother-in-law,” said Earhart, one of seven original members still with the band. “To honor them, their memory, and all the others who sacrificed their lives for our country.”
The Veterans Band has represented the Coastal Bend from sea to shining sea; from Washington, D.C to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
All five services are represented. Some members have seen combat, some haven't. Even though there are differences, these musicians are all on the same page.
“We rib each other and make fun of each other, but in the end we all get together, just like in combat,” said Earhart. “In music we get together the same way.”
“When you hold together, it doesn't separate,” added Chavez, clasping his hands together. “It gives us strength and here we are, we wouldn't have gotten this far.”
So what does it take to be a part of this band?
“It takes respect, it takes honor, commitment, dedication, and all with dignity,” said Chavez.
Chavez says he's working on another trip for the band, this one would be the farthest they've ever traveled. We'll let you know when those details are final.