Jerry Ross presents 'I Am An American' Saturday
April 16, astronaut Jerry Ross was barely awake aboard the space shuttle Atlantis
when he heard Roy Johnson
launch into I Am An American and the Purdue All-American Marching Band play America the Beautiful.
Saturday hell be sitting right next to Johnson, in the announcers room of Ross-Ade Stadiums new press box
delivering the words to I Am An American that have been ingrained in his conscious since he was a student at Purdue in the
late 1960s and early 1970s.
On the day Col. Ross got the I Am An American wake-up call, he set the United States record for space walks with
nine. He was flying in outer space for the seventh time, a world record. Honoring that accomplishment was the goal of Purdue
University Bands who invited Ross to be its special guest at Homecoming.
Even before 9/11 the words to I Am An American were circulated around the world by Purdue alums. Purdue
Bands patriotic tradition has become even more special, and more in demand, since 9/11. But its only because of Jerry Ross,
that the words have been beamed into outer space, says Kathy Matter, Public Relations Director for the Purdue Bands. We
honor that and we honor Jerry for his accomplishments on Saturday.
Ross says the wake-up call was planned by his family without his knowledge. They enlisted Johnsons help to make it
happen. It was a surprise! I was awake, but not yet moving around, he recalls. Each day during a shuttle mission, NASA
officials play wake-up music that is in some way significant for one of the crew members.
It was a surprise Ross loved, and NASA caught his reaction on tape. Thank you for the great music. I really
appreciate it, he said to the world from outer space on April 16. Its one of the tremendous traditions of Purdue University,
the origin of many of our countrys astronaut. It really is a nice way to wake up and get ready for No. 9!
Reminiscing about that moment, in preparation for his visit to Purdue this weekend, Ross says It was a great feeling. It
brought back good memories of fall football games at Ross-Ade with family and friends, he says.
And I think the rest of the crew was impressed with the words, and to find out that it is a great tradition that goes with
Purdue home football games!
Ross has been practicing for the big moment Saturday when he takes the microphone to deliver I Am An American
to the Homecoming crowd. So fans can see him, All-American Band director David Leppla has designed a special spotlight
for him during the bands halftime show.
Reflecting Purdues Homecoming theme of Victories and Heroes, the halftime show features music by film
composer John Williams, including the theme music he wrote for the 1984 Olympic Summer Games along with themes from
Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman and Star Wars.
As the band forms a space ship on the field, while performing music from the film E.T. and Star Wars, the stadium
Jumbotron will show the reality of space with video clips from Ross April 16 extravehicular space walk. Ross will join the
band on the field, to be recognized by the fans as the music builds to a climax.
The Purdue All-American Marching Band plays an integral part in Homecoming celebrations in many ways. Look for
7 p.m. Thursday Homecoming Parade leaves Ross-Ade Stadium to wind around campus, band members will light
their instruments for the event
3-3:30 p.m. Saturday Band will play on the steps of Hovde Hall
3:35 p.m. Saturday Band plays Hail Purdue at Bell Tower following brief remarks by Purdue Pres. Martin Jischke
4-4: 15 p.m. Saturday Band forms on south side of Elliott to lead a parade of fans to the stadium.
For those interested in hearing Jerry Ross wake-up call and his reaction to it live, visit NASAs webite and follow this