» The music of John Philip Sousa is all about high-decibel woodwinds and brass, so you might not guess the legendary bandmaster's own instrument — violin.
“He was a good musician, an entrepreneur and a person who set high standards and knew how to achieve them,” Sousa impersonator Robert Foster said. “He was the most famous musician in the world — the big star.”
Foster, national president of the John Philip Sousa Foundation and emeritus director of bands at the University of Kansas, will don an old-fashioned uniform and a white beard and mustache to portray Sousa in Omaha.
He will conduct the 85-member Nebraska Wind Symphony at 3 p.m. Sunday at Benson High School, 52nd and Maple Streets.
I get to narrate, and I've learned a lot in preparation. Sousa, for example, served in three branches of the military — the Marines, the Army and the Navy.
Toward the end of Sunday's concert, Foster will conduct the wind symphony in an “Armed Forces Medley,” the songs of all five branches, including the Air Force and Coast Guard.
It's always stirring when veterans stand at attention and salute during the music of their own branches.
Everyone then stands for Sousa's signature “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Admission is $10, or $5 for senior citizens and students, with children under 12 free.
Foster said that when our national security feels threatened — such as after 9/11 or this week's bombings at the Boston Marathon — it reminds people anew to unite in love of our country.
Sousa lived from 1854 to 1932. Said Foster: “Patriotism never goes out of style.”
» The “autocorrect” feature on modern smartphones can be handy, or it can drive you nuts when it makes your words, well, automatically incorrect.
People driving past the Meineke Car Care Center at 34th and Leavenworth Streets this week had to laugh at the words on the marquee:
“Stupid auto correct made me say thongs I didn't Nintendo.”
» Doolittle's Raiders met in the Omaha area two years ago, but this weekend marks their final planned reunion.
Of the original 80 who attacked Japan in the daring raid, 62 survived World War II. Now the group is down to four, all in their 90s.
“My father and all of the others were very uncomfortable with hero worship,” said Bob Joyce of Omaha.
'“They felt they were just doing the job.”
But what a job.
|Columnists Michael Kelly, Erin Grace and Matthew Hansen write about people, places and events around Omaha. Read more of their work here.|
Four months after the attack in Pearl Harbor, Col. Jimmy Doolittle assembled volunteers to fly 16 B-25s and bomb Tokyo on April 18, 1942.
They had planned to take off from the USS Hornet while 400 miles off the coast, but a Japanese patrol boat spotted them at 800 miles.
Because of that, Doolittle decided they needed to take off right away, even though they didn't have enough fuel to get there and back.
All 16 planes were lost, but it was considered a psychological victory — America's first big counterpunch.
Dick Joyce, Bob's dad, bailed out with his crew, landed in a mountainous area and survived for a week before being found by Chinese guerrillas, who helped him to safety. He lived to age 63.
Doolittle, who received the Medal of Honor and became a general, later served on the Mutual of Omaha board. Bob Joyce and his brother, Todd, who is attending this weekend's reunion in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., hunted pheasants and quail in Nebraska with their dad and Doolittle.
“When I was a kid growing up,” Bob said, “going to the reunions made the Raiders part of my extended family. They were role models for courage and values.”
» James Hansen, the sometimes controversial climatologist who retired this month but plans to keep speaking out about climate change, grew up northeast of Omaha in Denison, Iowa.
Since 1981, he had headed the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, and called for action to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Seven years ago, after government public-relations staffers were ordered to review and approve his future lectures, papers, online postings and requests for interviews, Hansen told me: “The problem is that the whole public affairs office has become too much of a propaganda machine.”
He was born in a Denison farmhouse, the fifth of seven children, and had been a World-Herald carrier in his youth. His New York office, he added, was on the floor above the restaurant exterior made famous in TV's “Seinfeld.”
» A documentary about a January bus trip from Omaha to the 2013 presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., will have its premiere next Saturday at 5 p.m. at Aksarben Cinema.
Not exactly a sequel, it follows the Emmy-winning 2009 documentary of a similar trip. Both were produced by Omowale Akintunde, associate professor of black studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Among those interviewed on this year's bus trip was Omaha seventh-grader Leon Gordon Jr., 13, the subject of my column on Inauguration Day.
» Raphael Silver, for 56 years the husband of movie director and writer Joan Micklin Silver, an Omaha native, died March 4 from a skiing accident in Utah. He was 83.
She wrote and directed the feature-length “Hester Street,” among other films.
The New York Times said he was a real estate developer who also produced some of his wife's movies, including “Between the Lines” and “Crossing Delancey.”
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