The West Point Band has been covering a lot of ground this November. In addition to ceremonies and parades, there were performances for Veterans luncheons, a Marine Ball, banquets, and a second consecutive week where the Jazz Knights Combo performed at the United Nations. There were funerals, cadet formations, and the clockwork sounds of Reveille and Retreat by the Hellcats. Add rehearsals, sectionals with the cadet band, secondary duties and other performances, and everyone was busy with a number of different tasks.
The band’s Veterans program, “Standing for Freedom – A Salute to Veterans,” was one of the month’s highlights. It began with the equipment and technical set-up, rehearsals, interviews, protocol labeling seats, and organizing parking and staging. It was a tremendous effort from all involved and is a labor of love and respect for all our Veterans, past and present. “Standing for Freedom” is a great example of the team effort necessary to put together an event of this scale. From performers to ushers, to those who set up and moved equipment, to narration, video and audio – everyone worked together. Meanwhile, as the Band was performing the concert, Master Sergeant MaryKay Messenger was singing the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden for the New York Knicks game.
On Monday (Veterans Day), the band started early with a Hellcat Bugler performing taps on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as the Superintendent, Lieutenant General Caslen, along with nearly twenty USMA graduates who are now leading NYSE companies, rang the opening bell.
The Hellcats were featured on “Fox and Friends” and shared with America the professionalism of its military. A little later, the Academy Brass Quintet was featured on “Fox 5” during and prior to the coverage of the Veterans Day parade. The rest of the band was at the Eternal Flame wreath-laying ceremony at Madison Square Park where a “who’s- who” of New York politicians and renowned guests of honor were on the Dias. The West Point Band performed pre-music for the ceremony along with a fine version of the Armed Services Medley and a solo bugler played a flawless performance of taps.
The morning was brisk and it looked like the parade might be a bit cold, but the sun came out just as we started moving up 5th Ave. The scene of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors lining the street, along with the regular hustle and bustle of NYC, was inspirational. The highlight was the band stepping on the Red Carpet in front of the reviewing stand and playing the Army song, The Army Goes Rolling Along. Meanwhile, our remaining Band members were supporting other events like the Highland Falls Fire Department’s Veterans Day activities, a Veterans dedication for Habitat for Humanity, and of course, reveille and retreat here at West Point.
We’re looking forward to a busy time through December: halftime at the Giants game last Sunday, Concert Band and Jazz Knights concerts this past weekend, the West Point Holiday Show, Army/Navy football game, FOX Holiday Special, and other holiday performances for the Corps, West Point, and New York City and surrounding communities. And up at the flagpole above Trophy Point, the sounds of reveille and retreat continue like clockwork.
The West Point Band, the Army’s Oldest, sharing the story of West Point and the Army with America.