The United States Army Field Band Prepares to Lead the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade

By Heather Santos
The U.S. Army Field Band

News story photo
Photo credit: SSG Timothy Kingston
The U.S. Army Field Band, The Musical Ambassadors of the Army, will lead more than 100 elements in the parade celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

As the senior military service, the Army has sent the Field Band to march as the lead unit in several presidential inaugural parades.

Though many of the band's musicians have performed in inaugural parades before, disciplined rehearsals are necessary when it comes to an event of such caliber. Marching in an Inaugural Parade is anything but routine, noted CSM David Keller. He added, “But, I don’t consider any of our performances routine. Yes, this particular performance is special, but we execute it with the same professionalism we would for any event."

The band devoted numerous days to prepare for the inauguration, to be held on January 20, and have been rehearsing for the event since August. As they marched up and down the Smallwood Hall parking lot (see photo) on Fort Meade on January 9, the band demonstrated the precision and musicianship for which it is known. Marching on this brisk, sunny day, the band never missed a beat, continuously maintaining its stride.

CSM Keller walked alongside the formation, closely examining every step. "I have to ensure they maintain their technique, as well as their alignment—the desire is to minimize how much they move while playing.”

Master Sergeant Bill Gabbard is the Field Band’s Drum Major, and he knows that he is the one person the crowd will be watching as he colorfully marches and leads the Field Band with the commands of his highly-polished mace—something to which onlookers pay close attention.

The Field Band headed to Washington, DC for a full dress rehearsal on January 11, further preparing to perform on the 1.5-mile parade route that begins at the steps of the United States Capitol Building and ends at the White House. These one hundred and five accomplished Soldier-musicians will certainly serve as the inspiration for others to follow.

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