It was a bitterly cold night when I arrived outside the Floyd Bennett American Legion last Thursday. There was talk that the Kings County American Legion Headquarters Band would cancel its rehearsal due to how the stinging cold might force “93-and-three-quarters-year-old” band maestro, Irwin E. Meyer, to stay in that night.
Just then, outside the corner of my eye, I saw a spry older man with a heavy box bound past me with a big smile on his face. Trumpet player Larry Rapaport nudged me, informing me that Meyer, the indomitable leader of the Kings County American Legion Headquarters band had arrived. Preparations for this weekend’s Four Chaplains memorial tribute at Fort Hamilton, where the Legion band will play, can now move forward.
As Meyer opened up the rehearsal space, located in the American Legion basement, I was immediately drawn to the faded photographs of former servicemembers that filled up the entire side wall. The photographs were clearly of another era, the colors of each naturally aged in a way Instagram could never duplicate. Other musicians began to file in, some clearly still in middle school, some still in college and others long retired.
“We have teachers, one guy’s a cop,” Meyer said. “One guy served in the military; we have one-and-a-half attorneys.”