Art Works Blog

NEA Arts: "Strike Up the Band! The Bond Between Music and Military"

The U.S. Air Force Band of Flight carries their gear through water on an overseas deployment. Photo by Major Richard M. Mench, USAF

"I was finishing graduate school as a music major and like most musicians, wanted to work as a performer. The idea of being in a military band had been on my mind since I saw The U.S. Army Field Band when I was about ten years old and thought that looked like pretty much the best job ever. I am also the son of a combat veteran of World War II and being a soldier was one way I could follow his example." --- Colonel Thomas H. Palatier on why he joined the Army as a musician

The 21st-century military is very different from its counterpart of 100 years ago, much less centuries past. One aspect has stayed the same, however---the presence of military musicians. Whether signaling the arrival of the President of the United States with "Hail to the Chief" or paying honor to fallen service members with "Taps" or just providing a night of entertainment for fellow troops, musicians remain a vital part of military culture. In "Strike Up the Band! The Bond between Music and Military" Michael Gallant speaks with musicians from the U.S. Army Band and the U.S. Air Force to find out what it's like to---as the Air Force Chief of Music Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Price puts it---"make art for the sake of our country."

Visit to read the full text of "Strike Up the Band," additional stories from our issue on the arts and the military, and browse our  online-only features, including a first-person account by ballet dancer-turned Marine-turned choreographer and artistic director Roman Baca, and an audio feature on Theater of War with the company's artistic director Brian Doerries.


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