- What year(s) did you march in the Blue Knights? What section?
I marched in the colorguard 1989-1991.
- Where did you attend high school?
Pomona High School in Arvada, CO.
- Education beyond high school?
I am a graduate of Naropa University and The Iliff School of Theology where I studied psychology, religion, and peacemaking.
- What is your current occupation?
I currently work at Central Washington University, but I’ve worked as a nonprofit executive director for most of my career. I’m also a poet. My book Gifts to the Attentive is being published in 2022.
- Why did you choose to march with the Blue Knights?
I was in the Pomona High School winter guard and many of my friends marched BK, so I joined.
- What is your favorite drum corps memory?
At a regional in 1991, there was a fireworks show over us during retreat. The fireworks were raining down on us! It was magical! Also, the first time the Blue Knights made finals at DCI was 1991. At retreat, we spread out and took up half the field then performed our ballad Aspen. More than individual moments, however, my main memories from the Blue Knights are of beauty and belonging. I am so grateful for my time in the corps!
- How have the Blue Knights impacted your life? What are some the Blue Knights’ core values/principles that have resonated with you in life?
Through music, movement, and performance, I experienced transcendence. It was all so deep and spiritual. It led me to become a poet at age 17. The core principles I carried from my time in the Blue Knights were belief in myself and persistence. Each of us discovered self-empowerment in the community, which is a beautiful thing. The persistence is epitomized in the corps song, I Go On. No matter how much the thunder rumbles, whatever life throws at me, I go on. Happily, I met my husband Steve Van Ausdall in BK, but we lived A LOT of life separately before reconnecting in 2017 and marrying a year later. Our good friends Dan and Megan met in BK, too, and they’ve been married for 26 years!
- What advice would you tell someone considering trying out for the Blue Knights?
Strive for authenticity and let your true self show. George Zingali told us to perform as if we were carrying signs that read, “Honest.” That’s how I try to live my life. I’m turning a half-century on March 14th, so it’s a good time for self-reflection.
In addition, see this poem by Marie, inspired by the Blue Knights!
for more of Marie’s poetry, you can visit here: mishiepoet.com
by Marie Marchand
I’ve never written a poem about something
that didn’t save my life.
Beauty is always present during
times I persisted through strife.
Words intuit and fashion the future.
I use them to honor and invite
what I perceive so I can move
past the losses I grieve.
Poetry coaxes honesty from our inside place
where we think we lack grace,
but we’re wrong–
there lives our sacred song.
A legend once taught me honesty.
On the field, we held signs above our head–
teenagers learning intensity and pride
our true selves we could no longer hide.
Music and color swirled around me.
I danced barefoot on the grass
under the sun in synchronized unity.
We practiced and practiced
and barely slept; we
travelled to destinations
none of us remembered.
We didn’t eat enough,
but we all loved one another.
It was a higher principality,
that one second,
different from reality.
A blue cathedral where
everyone was equal
because we all won or lost
together, at any cost.
With tears and frustration,
our souls bared,
triumphs we shared–
our devastation the foundation
for the future.
A wound to mend
in order to ascend.
Music is a language.
A song, a poem.
Like words, it saves lives,
as does community.
How can I say I don’t think
about those times, about that
Yes. I remember everything.
I learned an astounding, useful wonder.
I learned to go on–and to stay.
No matter my struggles
No matter what in my life crumbles,
I go on to celebrate another day.
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