Saturday, March 23, 2013

9103. Ralph C. Packard


The more I learn about our World War I veterans, the more I've come to see that I really don't know much about World War I.

Ralph Packard, one of our youngest World War I soldiers, served with the U.S. Marine Corps, hopefully just in 1918 (he was born in 1900). He didn't carry a gun; he was a "Trumpeter."

As one might guess, being a trumpeter in the Marines came with its share of tradition. After all, somebody had to put the pomp in "Pomp and Circumstance." And until 1892, Marine trumeters probably did. But after that date, things changed. No longer could Navy ship's captains design their own playlists. And no longer could they employ fifers to go along with drummers and trumpeters. The Marines had done away with them, too, in 1881. No, in 1892, the Navy standardized the sounds of the Navy day.

Ralph Packard may have met a few old-time fifers, who joined their American Legion bands around the time of the World War, but to them, he was the new breed, someone who had no concept of the way life used to be in the Corps. What interesting times to live in.

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