It seems rather odd, with the various problems crying out for attention around the world, that The Post would devote editorial space to vent its ire on the Parris Island Marine Band, which canceled a bicentennial parade engagement in Leominster, Mass., because of inclement weather {"Semper Dry," Oct. 31}. This snide editorial chides the Marine Corps and its "can do" image because the director refused to perform in the rain. For once, good sense prevailed, and the taxpayers were well served.

During my 30 years with the Marine Band ("The President's Own") in Washington, I am sure we played in the rain, sleet, freezing and blustery weather many times just so nobody would point the accusing finger at us, especially some newspaper editor. There's no telling how many battlefield disasters could be related to upholding this macho, can-do philosophy, when just plain good sense would dictate a different course of action.

Good musical instruments aren't designed to be played under water, and there is a temperature below which trying to make music becomes all but futile. In my years with the Marine Band, I often had up to three engagements a day, and nobody is well served if playing at a rainy ceremony in the morning causes the pads of a clarinet to fall out at a later White House reception. The public expects and deserves something more than just another high school band from military musicians.

The Post's editorial insinuates that the Marine Corps isn't what it used to be in the "old days." How many times have I heard that one? By beating its chest and tooting its own horn, the Marine Corps has created a fantasy that has become a burden. Instead of always self-consciously looking over its shoulder to see if its image is being maintained, the corps should simply concentrate on excellence in all that it does. -- David H. Knighton