The music started out rather festive. It was a faster pace, and up beat. The woodwinds were featured in a high pitched melody. Charles took his baton, and with every ounce of feeling in his body conducted the remarkable group. The piece meant so much to him. The music abruptly changed keys. The melody had now moved into the brass section. Despite the fast pace, the music was not as lively. In fact somehow Charles managed to have the trumpets scream in pain like those in triage, the percussion went about like choppers on the pad. There was a sense of urgency in the music; it was full of despair and desperation. Mildred Potter took her husband's hand. She sensed an uneasiness to him. That was because Sherman had chills racing up and down his spine. With the music he easily visioned the horrors of the operating room, and the all too many faces of boys who shouldn't have been playing war.
The next movement entitled 'Too Young for War: Radar O'Reilly.' The movement was an Irish folk song. It was childish in manor, and rather whimsical. Radar O'Reilly smiled. He was flooded with memories of the MASH. Hawkeye and BJ, but before BJ, Trapper John McIntyre took care of him and in a way almost finished raising the na´ve farm boy. The Iowa yokel was certainly too young for the responsibility that was put on him in Korea, but he needed to grow up at some point. At the point that seemed like the climax of the song, there was an eerie stop. There was an unnerving silence, which made Hawkeye uncomfortable. At the point where the group thought that they might go mad the orchestra started up again, and played a funeral march. Mrs. O'Reilly wept. Like many boys that went off to war a part of Radar had died in the far away country. A part of her son Walter never came home from Korea. He left Iowa a boy, but came home a man, never to see life in the same way.
BJ smiled at Hawkeye and then to Peg once he read his program for the next movement, 'A Still in the Swamp.' Of course the movement which was Charles's arrangement a jocular pub song, was not as symbolic as the common listener would assume. For all that knew of the scenes in the Swamp, the music accompanied the memories so well. Margaret could picture her husband and BJ or Trapper John sitting near the still, whether it was to host a party or play a game of checkers, where the pieces where full shot glasses. Peg had heard the stories from the Swamp, and she too had no problem now imagining the antics of her husband and his best friend, especially with the musical accompaniment. Of course, she was not as easily convinced when BJ came home that her husband had taken up drinking. It was not until she went to Crab Apple Cove for Hawkeye and Margaret's wedding that she met this character and truly understood their tolerance for alcohol, even the kind that tasted like lighter fluid.
Sherman Potter had memories of his own in the Swamp. The first time he had experienced the Still was his first night on the job. He was from the regular army and hadn't operated in a few years. Everything came back to him in the OR, when the time counted, but the two Captains, who were incredible doctors, invited him for a nightcap. That would not be the last time he would head to the Swamp for a drink. Many a nights he played cards with the Swamp Rats. Hawkeye laughed at the memories he had, first with Trapper John McIntyre, and then with the more lovable, kinder BJ Hunnicutt. Perhaps it was Donald Penobscott's bachelor party that made him laugh the most. BJ and Hawk had gotten Donald drunk and then put a cast from the chest down on the man, and left him that way for his honeymoon. But it may have been when the two schemers put a toe tag on Frank Burns and sent him on the line after they had gotten him drunk that was the funniest of the memories. Each one of them, without a doubt had their own fond memories of the still in the Swamp.
The movement ended and went into a beautiful depressing ballad called, 'In Love and War: Margaret's song.' The movement, which featured woodwinds and strings, put a lump in Margaret's throat. Memories of her affair with Frank Burns came first. If Margaret Houlihan Pierce had the chance to undo one thing in her life, she would chose to erase the time she spent romancing the very married Frank Burns. She was all alone in a place that scared her, and she needed to be with someone, unfortunately so did Major Frank Burns. Margaret had convinced herself that she was in love with the man, yet she never really was.
Her memories of Frank faded into memories of Donald Penobscott. Her marriage was just another escape. Now that Margaret thought back on it, the two were never really in love. Their relationship was just something to do to forget about where they were and what they were doing.
Looking back at the entire conflict and all of the men that had romanced her, all of the generals, and others, there was only one man that really meant anything to her romantically. Of course her unit was full of men that she loved and would confide in-Colonel Potter who was like a father to her, and BJ Hunnicutt, who was a dear friend, a relationship she felt was much like that of a brother, if she had had one.
It was Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce she had grown to love. At first the two did not have an ideal relationship, but as their friends and comrades went home, or in Henry Blake's case died, the two were the survivors of the 4077th, and that was what brought them together. By the time the war was over they knew each other too well to try and keep their weaknesses hidden. There were many times when the two could have or should have professed their undying love for each other, but it wasn't that way. It had taken Hawkeye and Margaret years to come to terms with their feelings. They were two people who kept their feelings to themselves.
There was one memory that came shooting from Margaret's memory. A night in a collapsing hut somewhere between two MASH units. Margaret had never been so scared in her life. Bombs were dropped close to them. The fighting was near. He was close to her. She cried that night and opened up to him about her failing marriage. He took her in his arms to comfort her, to protect her from the war outside.
A second memory dealt with an aid station on the front. Hawkeye and Margaret had been sent with Klinger to help out. They worked until they came to an exhausted halt. She was frightened by the noise. That night sleep came easy as Hawkeye and Margaret propped themselves up against a side of the aid station. She fell asleep in his strong arms, and he promised nothing would happen to her. It was the first time she has seen him outside of being a comedic doctor. It was the first time he had seen her outside of being the strong willed Major. They came back, two different people. And they knew each other a little better. It was the first time she realized she had feelings for Hawkeye.
Margaret was so lost in thought she didn't hear the music change. The next movement was entitled 'A Cavalry's Cry.' The up beat song of trumpet cries, no doubt described Sherman Potter and his position. A former cavalier and a Regular Army, Sherman Potter was the second to command MASH 4077th. Henry Blake was a man that Charles had never met, but he seemed like a man that everyone needed to meet at least once.
Mildred Potter tightened the grasp of her husband's hand. As much as she loved her husband's bravery, she was happier now with her retired husband than she had ever been while he was an army man. There was always a fear in the back of her mind that her Sherman would go out fighting and never come back. And towards the end of his career, his tours of duty seemed longer and much closer together.
The percussion held a steady beat, like that of a trotting horse. Sherman Potter smiled. The music brought back memories of a horse that he hadn't thought of in years. Sophie was a horse that Radar had given him. She was a fine mare, strong and loyal as any animal. When army hospital life became too much to bear, he would hop on the horse and take her for a ride. It kept him sane. While he was out he often wondered how the others fared without a release, like his. Sure, they had their alcohol, but he knew that was never a real release, and they woke up more tired and feeling worse than they had the night before.
Margaret smiled through the movement. Colonel Sherman Potter was a man that she absolutely adored. He was her father figure while in Korea. He took care of her and she believed that in her own way she took care of him. The next movement was called 'A Chaplain's Hymn.' The music was rich with the essence of a religious song, yet there was a harmony that seemed to be children's laughter. Father Mulcahy smiled. Despite his hearing problem, Charles's music was faint, but he could hear it. He had thought of the Korean children day after day after coming home. When he set up his school for the deaf, he had a new challenge with children. He knew that if he hadn't become a priest he would have wanted a house full of children. Their laughter and their dreams were something that he would never be able to forget.
The others from the unit loved Father Mulcahy. At first Hawkeye was unsure how a man of the cloth could survive through a war, if he himself was having trouble. But Father Mulcahy proved himself more than once. Once he did a tracheotomy on a soldier in the middle of nowhere, another time he ran a race for the MASH unit, although he won there may have been a conflict of interest on the other racer's side. He was a stronger man that his looks gave him.
The next movement was called an 'Arabian Air.' Maxwell Q. Klinger took the hand of his wife and smiled while listening to the music. It had an Arabian theme to it, yet the wood winds seemed to whisper a striptease song. The way the music blended together, but at the same time seemed out of place illustrated Klinger in a way that no one could really every put into words. He was a man that really never seemed to belong in the army. His stunts proved it. Everything from his famous cross-dressing and all of the perks that came with his dresses to trying to fly home. Despite his actions to get out on a section eight, he meshed will with the others and gave the drab olive color of the camp some color not only visually by emotionally as well.
As the 'Arabian Air' finished, Charles conducted the group into the final movement. 'Somewhere Between War and Peace' was the first movement that Charles had written. It opened with a small ensemble playing Mozart's "Quintet for Clarinet and Strings." This song had more meaning to Charles Emerson Winchester than any other piece he had ever heard. The music to him symbolized that amidst the inhumanity of war there was still some dignity. As the ensemble continued playing, a lone oboe got up and played. The music was cheerful, quick and upbeat. The group sitting in the box knew that it was the announcement of the end of the war. Chills shot up their spines. The ensemble stopped abruptly. As the rest of the orchestra played cheerful music, as if they were shouting and jumping for joy, a solitary violin wept. The rest of the group faded out as the violin continued to weep.
The weeping violin slowly faded to nothingness. It seemed to echo in the listener's heads for a moment, and then there was a cheer. The group in the VIP box stood and gave the symphony and its composer a standing ovation. Charles wiped the tears from his eyes and bowed to his cheering audience. He then pointed up to the box for all to see whom he had written his music about.