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The 1950s and 1960s

The decades following World War II saw a remarkable increase in the size and function of The U.S. Army Band. In 1950, The U.S. Army Strings were formed, and in 1956 The U.S. Army Chorus became an official part of the unit. In 1959, The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets was formed to welcome Queen Elizabeth to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

During the 1950s, the Band welcomed pop singers Eddie Fisher and Steve Lawrence into the unit. Also at this time, the Band began the popular Freedom Sings concert series, which brought in many prominent guests artists to perform with the Band.

Steve Lawrence

Former Army Band member Steve Lawrence.

During the 1960s, the Army Band was involved in several events that were seen by the whole world. Army Bandsman Sergeant Keith Clark sounded Taps for the funeral of President John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery. In addition, the band played hymns as the flag-draped casket of President Kennedy was moved in and out of St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. One of the funeral drums used in the funeral procession remains on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

Sergeant Keith Clark

Sergeant Keith Clark.

During this period, The Army Band led the inaugural parades of President Lyndon Johnson and President Richard Nixon. The band welcomed back John Glenn from his historic space flight in Friendship 7, as well as the Apollo 11 astronauts from their historic moon landing in 1969. The band was also responsible for performing many funerals for casualties of the Vietnam War.

Between 1964 and 1969 the band adopted a distinctive uniform and Coat of Arms, was authorized an organizational flag, and was officially designated The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” Prior to 1946, the band was officially titled The Army Band. After 1946, the band was officially titled The United States Army Band. The creation of an organizational flag was approved by exception of Army policy.