(Click here to listen to the song)
By CATHY DYSON
As soon as officials heard the song Dak Van Vranken composed for the FBI's 100th anniversary, they found a place for it in their jam-packed program.
The fact that it came from a member of the FBI family--Dak's father has been an agent for 20 years--made it special, said Mike Kortan, who oversaw the anniversary events.
The fact that it came from a 15-year-old made it a topic of conversation.
"Anyone who knew the whole story was taken by the talent and the ability there," said Kortan, deputy assistant director of the Office for Public Affairs. "We were all very moved by the song."
Today is the FBI's birthday, but commemorations have been going on for almost two weeks.
Dak's big event came July 17, when his song--an orchestral piece titled "Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity: A Centennial Tribute to the FBI"--made its public debut. Hundreds of FBI employees heard the recording during a ceremony at the bureau's Washington headquarters, then about 1,500 former special agents listened to it at the Newseum.
"It was a wonderful tribute to 100 years of the FBI," Kortan said. "I'm not a music expert, but I could hear how various parts of the music relate to various parts of the FBI mission."
Dak, a rising sophomore, smiled at that.
"You never really know how people are going to react, and I was actually surprised," he said modestly. "People liked it. They really liked it."
He neglected to mention that FBI Director Robert Mueller and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey complimented him as they posed with him for photos.
His mother and father, Rae and Ron Van Vranken of North Stafford, gladly elaborated as they raved about Dak's stirring composition--more than he ever would.
For his mom, the song passes the "cry test" every time.
"Oh, it's fabulous," she said, wiping away a tear.
For his dad, it's simply astounding.
"We've learned to get out of Dak's way, because he knows what he wants," Ron Van Vranken said. "Every note you hear is from him, from his head to his fingers to the keyboard."
Dak's family shares an interest in the arts. They don't watch television, except DVDs, and they spend their evenings reading, playing charades or watching each other perform.
Luke, 17, has landed several prominent roles in plays at North Stafford. Olivia, 11, sings.
All three children spend time in the family's impressive music room. A grand piano sits against one wall, a Casio keyboard along another. Dak composed his FBI song there, as well as other scores for a fantasy epic he and Luke are writing.
Dak thought about his dad and the ideals he embodies when he wrote the FBI tribute at his father's request. He remembered stories about his dad chasing bank robbers and kidnappers.
"He's done the same stuff you see in movies, which is cool," Dak said.
Initially, Dak's father hoped the song would be almost hymn-like. But Dak insisted on incorporating darker sounds as well.
The music includes elements of danger, intrigue and triumph, said Chris Salamone, a producer/engineer at Salamone's Recording Studio in Fredericksburg. Dak wrote parts for more than 200 instruments, and Salamone recorded and mixed the tracks.
"He's exceptional," Salamone said. "What he's creating sounds to me like something that would come from somebody with many more years of experience."
Dak hopes to get plenty of experience. He'd love to write movie scores, and he stresses that his compositions are meant for symphonies.
"He doesn't want to be known as a piano player, but my gosh," his mother said, looking at Dak, "you're so good. You are."
"He wants others to play his music," his father said.
"They will," his mother responded.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
Friday, July 18, 2008
Valerie, Molly and I attended a black tie optional reception in DC last night at the recently opened Newseum. It was a celebration for the FBI's 100th anniversary. The venue was outstanding and as you can see from the photos has an amazing view up and down Pennsylvania Ave. Oh, the free booze and hors d'oeuvres weren't bad either.(click on any image to enlarge) Molly and Valerie in front of the largest remaining section of the original Berlin Wall
I'm such a lucky guy
A display that was dear to my heart after 9 years of tech. work at the Washington Field Office.
Hoover never had it so good.
We had to get one more photo
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The FBI originated from a force of Special Agents created in 1908 by Attorney General Charles Bonaparte during the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. The two men first met when they both spoke at a meeting of the Baltimore Civil Service Reform Association. Roosevelt, then Civil Service Commissioner, boasted of his reforms in federal law enforcement. It was 1892, a time when law enforcement was often political rather than professional. Roosevelt spoke with pride of his insistence that Border Patrol applicants pass marksmanship tests, with the most accurate getting the jobs. Following Roosevelt on the program, Bonaparte countered, tongue in cheek, that target shooting was not the way to get the best men. "Roosevelt should have had the men shoot at each other, and given the jobs to the survivors."
Roosevelt and Bonaparte both were "Progressives." They shared the conviction that efficiency and expertise, not political connections, should determine who could best serve in government. Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States in 1901; four years later, he appointed Bonaparte to be Attorney General. In 1908, Bonaparte applied that Progressive philosophy to the Department of Justice by creating a corps of Special Agents. It had neither a name nor an officially designated leader other than the Attorney General. Yet, these former detectives and Secret Service men were the forerunners of the FBI.
Today, most Americans take for granted that our country needs a federal investigative service, but in 1908, the establishment of this kind of agency at a national level was highly controversial. The U.S. Constitution is based on "federalism:" a national government with jurisdiction over matters that crossed boundaries, like interstate commerce and foreign affairs, with all other powers reserved to the states. Through the 1800s, Americans usually looked to cities, counties, and states to fulfill most government responsibilities. However, by the 20th century, easier transportation and communications had created a climate of opinion favorable to the federal government establishing a strong investigative tradition.