Today is a special holiday in which we honor and pay tribute to the brave men and women who serve/have served our country. The band of brothers and sisters that put all of themselves into protecting and fighting for freedom and justice.
In honor of Veterans Day, I am proud to present a guest post by Derek McGee of the band Funkinships. Derek is an Iraq war veteran whose reintegration into regular life was made easier with the help of music, and a friend by the name of Charlie Chamberlain. The two men met aboard the Mystic Whaler, a sailing classroom on the Hudson River. Together, along with the crew and some friends on board, Derek and Charlie created Funkinships, and subsequently released their debut album, Post Folk Absurdist.
Derek’s guest post highlights the significance of being a part of a pack. The powerful effects of strength in numbers, both actively and emotionally. The strength of your crew, your band, is what gives each individual member strength, especially out on the battlefield. It’s a piece that will resonate with many, whether you are honoring a veteran you know, or simply observing the day with your own pack. As a bonus, check out “Chicken Flap Fly” at the bottom of the post.
Veterans Day is different for veterans than it is for the rest of the country. For most it is a chance to show appreciation to the men and women who served in the Armed Forces, but for those who served it is a time to reflect on our time serving. I will tell you what this looks like for me. I miss my herd. Humans are a social animal. We belong in herds, tribes, packs, clubs, or platoons. Whatever you call your group, you need one. That was one of the hardest parts about getting out of the military. I was suddenly on my own. I have a fiancé and as of 6 weeks ago a daughter, but I still miss the completeness that only a herd can bring. Today, my herd is the band Funkinships. That includes anyone singing or playing along. Funkinships has a fluid membership.
We all want to belong to something larger than ourselves. Making music with the people around you lets you do more than feel like you are a part of something bigger — you can hear it. You can hear how you fit into the whole.
When I came back from Iraq the second time I bounced around looking for a herd. I tried finance. That didn’t work. I joined a sailboat crew — that worked but I couldn’t do it forever. Then one day on the boat I met Charlie Chamberlain, a musician. Together we wrote songs (even though I had no musical experience) and held a band rehearsal with some other volunteers on the boat. I got that same sense of contentment I did bunking with my platoon in the train station north of Fallujah, Iraq.
So, this Veterans Day I will look through the old photos and reach out to my fellow Marines like I always do. But I will also put on the Funkinships CD and sing along. And while I am thankful for the veterans of this country, like everyone else, today I am especially thankful that there are people willing to sing along with me. Because I need a herd. What is your herd?