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2010 Tattoo Travel Blog (Page 2)

The Citadel Department of External Affairs is blogging the journey to Edinburgh and back with the Regimental Band and Pipes. Thank you for joining us and for your support!

Recollections of a band mom

Written by Jerri Gregory Rodgers
Tuesday, 17 August 2010 16:00

I am getting comfortable on my Continental Airlines flight from Savannah to Newark where I would be meeting up with a group of people I did not know and was, admittedly, nervous to meet. I did not know what to expect from this group, put together by The Citadel Alumni Association specifically for the trip to Edinburgh. We were all going to Scotland to see the Regimental Band and Pipes perform at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

jerri.rodgersOn the first leg of the flight I was sitting across the aisle from a couple and noticed the man had a book on tartans. I remembered the travel agent said months earlier that another couple would be flying out of Savannah on this trip. I worked up the nerve to ask the man if I could look at his book and that was the beginning of my friendship with Frank Gibson, Citadel Class of 1969. In Newark, I met other alumni also making the trip. I was put at ease at how friendly everyone was. I was traveling alone on this trip and worried I might be an outsider. That was not the case. Everyone was wonderful and I enjoyed meeting and spending time with them all.

My first night at the Tattoo was magical. I was so excited to see Joshua and his classmates, to be in Scotland and to see the band and pipes perform. I could hardly contain myself. There was so much pride...tradition....professionalism among these young men and women in the band. I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for the band and pipes to perform. "America's Band" was in the house - Edinburgh Castle. It was thrilling to watch them march out of the castle and onto the esplanade. I was overwhelmed with emotion when the band broke out into a Saturday football rendition of "Hey Baby." The cadets cut loose, dancing, singing and playing while the 8,700 people in the audience cheered and clapped. No one cared that it was raining and we were getting wet. Everyone was smiling and many of us in the alumni group were crying too. Happy tears. Tears of immense pride seeing the cadets' hard work, dedication and devotion there under the bright lights of the castle.

I enjoyed the first show so much I went back a second night to see it again, and the same feelings rushed over me as the band emerged and performed.

After, I spent my days in Scotland touring the city of Edinburgh and other nearby places. Of course, there was a lot of time, and money, spent shopping. Josh had visited me at the hotel. He shared with me his stories of all the fun and experiences the cadets were having. One morning at breakfast Josh walked into the breakfast room with me and the most beautiful thing happened. Every alumnus in the room at the time came up to him, grabbed his hand firmly, looked him square in the eye and spoke words of encouragement, words of pride and joy and words of friendship. It was a lovely act of support.

On our last night in the country we attended a farewell dinner for the alumni tour group. Candle lit and tuck down one of the city's many cobblestone streets, Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa spoke as did Mike Rogers, the CAA director. As I looked across the room and met the eyes of the people I had just spent the last seven days with, my heart was heavy but filled with joy. My time with these people, whom I did not know a week ago but now felt closer to for having shared this amazing trip with them, had accepted me and my son as family. I felt compelled to let them know how thankful I was for their acceptance and for the time we had spent together. I cried as I expressed my gratitude. They cried as they accepted me. I had a wonderful trip. I would do it all over again. I will remember these people always, and I will always remember what Tom Horrigan, Class of 79, told me during a chance meeting one spring in Washington, D.C. - there is nothing like the bond of the ring.

Our journey comes to an end

Written by Charlene Gunnells
Saturday, 14 August 2010 19:09


As a newspaper reporter I enjoyed my anonymity. People knew my name but not my face. When I came to The Citadel I became a bit more of a public figure, appearing on television news on behalf of the college. It never occurred to me when I went to Scotland on behalf of the college that people would want to know who was behind "The Citadel External Affairs" on Facebook. But many of you did. Not only that, you wanted to see my picture too.

So on the occasion of my departure from Scotland I decided to give you what you want. But I thought I would tell you a bit about my journey too.

Russ Pace, the official college photographer, and I embarked on the trip to Edinburgh July 28 - the same day as the Regimental Band and Pipes. Our goal was to photograph and shoot video throughout our 18-day journey. We flew separately from the band, and because we missed our connecting flight in Newark (thanks to a visit to New Jersey that day by President Barrack Obama) we arrived a day later than the band. Jet lagged and sleep deprived (and missing our luggage and some equipment) we were on the way to the first rehearsal with the band within an hour of arrival in the country. From then on, everywhere the band went we went snapping pictures and filming every word and note played. Our goal was to make you feel like you were there even if you weren't.

The response to our work was overwhelming and heartwarming. Many of you told us you were addicted to it. Others said your morning ritual now includes going to the web pages to read the latest travel blog, too look for your cadets in the photo slideshows and picture albums and to watch the videos that chronicle the trip. You asked us to keep an eye on your cadets. You emailed me with questions when you had not heard from them in a while. You provided feedback on all our work and asked questions. When you came to Scotland you hugged us like family. And you asked us to keep the pictures, stories and video coming. We worked day and night, seven days a week for 18 days to do just that.

Russ and I left Scotland on Aug. 13. It was hard to leave. The cadets had grown comfortable with us and we had grown attached to them. They are funny, smart, hardworking and determined young men and women who worked daily to do everyone back home -- not to mention the 8,700 people in the audience each night -- proud. As the plane's wheels lifted of the tarmac at Edinburgh airport, Russ and I were both solemn and emotional. We got to meet some great people within the Tattoo organization and witness some truly outstanding performances. We shared in the immense pride of being part of "America's Band." When the cadets marched onto the esplanade each night we were as excited and proud as any of their parents.

There are a few more videos to post but our coverage has essentially come to an end. There may be occasional blogs from the cadets if their time permits and we hope to see pictures once in a while from Capt. Dillahey, who is an outstanding photographer, and the cadets now among my personal Facebook friends and the fan base of The Citadel External Affairs.

Russ and I would have liked to stay in Edinburgh longer but we are grateful for the time we had and for the tremendous opportunity to share the 2010 journey to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo with a great group of cadets, Cmdr. Mike Alverson, Capt. Jim Dillahey Maj. Jeff Price and everyone else in The Citadel family. We sincerely loved every single minute of it. Thank you.

Scotland and the internet

Written by Charlene Gunnells
Friday, 13 August 2010 02:42

If you have not heard from your cadet through email, Facebook or other electronic means lately there may be good reason. Some of us at Darroch Court - our flat here in Edinburgh - experience regular Internet outages. It's been a little frustrating when trying to work but like the weather, if you wait long enough it will change.

Speaking of the weather, rain is getting to us. The last couple of days have been cloudy and especially rainy. Thursday it rained again. It rains every day, but is usualy a misty rain and stops after a while. The last two days have seen strong downpours. Thursday there was even thunder and lightning. Oddly enough the rain stopped in time for that night's Tattoo performance at Edinburgh Castle. The wet esplanade cast a more dramatic glow on all the acts performing.

In the sun and the rain, the Band Company went on a PT run Thursday in Holyrood Park. The mission was to run up to Arthur's Seat. This "hill" as they call it in Scotland is one of the highest points in the country. It would be a challenge even for the best athlete. The run was organized by our Tattoo liaison officer, Craig. Video to come soon.

Americans in Scotland

Written by Charlene Gunnells
Wednesday, 11 August 2010 04:33

There was a nice surprise at last night's Tattoo performance.

pinewood_prepThe crowd response to our band's performance was the best it has been yet thanks in part to a large group of students from Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville and a good contingent of Americans scattered throughout the audience. The group from Pinewood is a group of drama students who were selected to perform in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a huge arts festival taking place in the city at the same time as Tattoo. They are performing "OZ,” a world premier play written for them by Don Zolidis.

They were an enthusiastic bunch, and we appreciated them cheering for the Regimental Band and Pipes.

We've run into a lot of people from the United States while in Edinburgh. Before each night's performance cadets stand outside Geoffrey (Tailor)'s Edinburgh Old Town Weaving Co. just outside Edinburgh Castle and watch the crowds come into the grandstands. The weaving mill is where the cadets wait until it is their turn to perform. As many folks from home know the cadet full dress salt and pepper uniform (gray tux style jacket, white pants and plume hat) attracts attention. People come up to the cadets all the time to take their picture or pose in pictures with them. We've seen people from Ohio, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, California and Virginia. They always approach the cadets, share where they are from, ask questions about The Citadel and wish them well on their performance. The tourists -- from the French to the Chinese -- and residents of Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland are also curious about the cadets. People in Scotland have great love, respect and support for the military servicemen and women here and are equally gracious to our cadets.

Photo: Pinewood Prep students in the audience at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. They are the ones standing about six rows up.

Tattoo odds and ends

Written by Charlene Gunnells
Monday, 09 August 2010 20:13

rosaWe really appreciate all the great feedback we have been getting to our coverage of the Regimental Band and Pipes’ trip to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Whether you are following us at, on Facebook, on YouTube or on all three, it is great to hear from you.

As you know Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa and his wife, Donna, and Provost Brig. Gen. Sam Hines and his wife, Laura, attended a Tattoo rehearsal last week at Edinburgh Castle. Tonight they were members of the audience. We have not heard what they thought of the show or of the cadets’ performance, but we’re sure they loved it. The 8,700 people watching tonight sure did.

The cadets are making fast friends with the performers and musicians from New Zealand, Jordan and Scotland. Even the motor coach (charter bus) drivers are becoming mates. One of the two Citadel drivers said tonight that many people he has talked to, including friends, have talked about how great the cadets are doing at Tattoo and how they are a local favorite among the performers.

"I told them I'm their bus driver," he said proudly with his Irish brogue.

We've met lots of parents and alumni in Edinburgh since last week. They always manage to spot the cadets in their full dress salt and pepper uniforms and come over to talk to them. We've also met people from South Carolina and many other states. The cadets are frequently asked to pose for pictures with people from all over the world. They cannot walk around the city in a uniform without getting stopped to answer questions or be in photos. We think it is because they look so darn sharp in gray.

Tuesday we are on the road to Glasgow for a performance on George Square. Then it is back to Edinburgh for the nightly Tattoo performance.

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