Photo: Carlos Meda
Meet Specialist Carlos Meda, the marine that spices up the Iraqi national anthem with mariachi flavor.
When a middle-school Carlos Meda saw the local high school band perform, he begged his parents to allow him to enroll, but the humble family couldn’t afford instruments. Far from giving up, Meda reached out to the school to see if they would let him rent an instrument.
“At the time I didn’t really know the difference between instruments, and my parents couldn’t afford to rent me an instrument. So the school offered me something they owned that I could rent out from them, like at no cost. Of course, it just happens to be one of the biggest instruments in there. So, I picked up the tuba.”
After high school, Meda formed a Mariachi band, and begun singing and playing guitar professionally.
In 1998, Meda joined the Marine Corps, and in 2005 he joined the Texas Army National Guard Band, where he got reacquainted with his old friend the tuba.
Last December, Officer Jeff Lightsey, the band commander, was told by his 34th Infantry Division counterpart that he needed to appoint one soldier to learn the Iraqi national anthem and perform it in front of locals and media at various events as the country restores its democracy.
“To be frank, he is the only soldier deployed here that could have pulled off the Iraqi anthem vocally,” said Lightsey.
Meda explains that the Iraqi national anthem’s lyrics explain what homeland means to the Iraqi people.
“I spent a lot of hours trying to learn the pronunciation, because I knew that I would be in public, and I did not want to present that wrong or say it wrong,” said the humble mariachi.
Meda’s performance of the Iraqi national anthem has received praise and wide acclaim; last month, after a performance in the Muthanna province ”the governor of the province came up to me (and said), ‘I heard you. I heard you, and it sounded really good. You pronounced it right.’ And I got a lot of compliments that I did it right.”
“It’s an honor. It’s a great honor,” Meda said.