One of America’s most distinguished military bands will perform in a free concert May 18 in recognition of Armed Forces Day and as a prelude to Memorial Day.
The Rotary Club of McMinnville will welcome the 129th Army Band of the Tennessee National Guard in a program of patriotic music and American musical favorites starting at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Warren County Middle School.
“Armed Forces Day is May 17 and Memorial Day follows on May 26,” Noon Rotary president Terry Hines noted. “We can’t think of a better way to pay honor to all those who have served and who continue to serve in our nation’s military, and to help us prepare for the solemn observance of Memorial Day later in the month.”
The 129th Army Band is headquartered at Houston Barracks in Nashville and is led by Chief Warrant Officer Billy Stepp and Commander First Sergeant Richard Griffith.
The band dates its origins to the decades before the Declaration of Independence, when its predecessors served in the Tennessee Militia that saw duty in protecting the early colonial settlements. Many of the same units later routed the British at the Battle of Kings Mountain in October 1780.
In the next century, the present band’s antecedents saw action with the Third Infantry Regiment during the Mexican War (1846-48), the Spanish-American War (1898-1900) and the Mexican Border Campaign of 1916. All of that was a preface to fighting as part of the 30 Infantry Division in some of the most momentous engagements of World War I, including the battles of the Somme, Ypres, Saint-Mihiel and in the Meuse-Argonne.
In peacetime, the 129th Army Band has played at a presidential inaugural, at two world’s fairs, and at U.S. diplomatic and NATO event around the globe. Most recently, the ensemble was called to active duty as one of two reserve bands in support of Operation Desert Storm.
“It’s great to see one of the finest military bands in the nation perform in my hometown of McMinnville,” said Major General Terry “Max” Haston, commander of the Tennessee National Guard. “The 129th Army Band has performed all over the world, for presidents and governors, for troops deployed and here at home. They always put on a great show.”