It’s that time of year during the fall semester. Homecoming is in the air across the country. Homecoming…what an interesting word. Merriam-Webster defines it as follows:
- 1: a return home
- 2: the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home; especially : an annual celebration for alumni at a college or university
Simple and clear enough. We all experience a variety of “homecomings” every year. Whether it is gathering in the actual homes where we grew up for holiday feasts, in the homes of relatives for various occasions, or even at a special restaurant with special friends just to catch up on life–even that is a type of homecoming. The events inevitably take us down memory lane – sometimes a celebratory time and sometimes a bittersweet time. No homecoming is ever the same.
Tomorrow is Homecoming at UD. Alumni will return to campus and gather again, reminiscing about “the good ol’ days.” They will walk the campus grounds that are not the same as when they attended classes: new buildings, new fountains and monuments, new landscaping. A college campus is a living entity that grows and evolves just as a human being does. Yet the feeling of familiarity, of warmth and of security will inevitably wrap itself around each alum, who will at some point during the day sigh deeply and smile while thinking “I’m home. I’m safe.”
The UDMB will see its “relations” tomorrow. They will see “family members” whom they’ve never met before, who will regale them with stories that begin with “Well, when I was in the band…” Each story will be filled with cherished memories of their time wearing a UDMB uniform (whether it was a West Point military style from the 50’s or the ones we just retired after the 2012 season) and what it was like to be part of the biggest “family” on campus. They will enter the stadium for pre game with smiles that wrap around their heads; they will play in the stands trying to out do the monster “baby band” next to them. Some will even run the stands during 3rd quarter….or at least try and remember perhaps the arthritis in their knees might be upset with them later….but heck, they’ll do it anyway!
Every face of a UDMB Alumni Band member tells a story of their experience in the program. Every memory weaves together the fabric of time that is so thick nothing can penetrate it. And this giant security blanket envelopes every one of them because they are “home” again, safe with their band, surrounded by people who understand what they did and why they did it when THEY were undergraduates at UD.
I believe Mitch Albom sums it up perfectly within the pages of his book “Five People You Meet In Heaven.” It is a quote that struck me years ago and is one which I believe most accurately describes to how I try to live my life:
“The secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.”
Welcome HOME alumni, welcome home.