The United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” has been the premier musical organization of the U.S. Army since 1922 when Army Chief of Staff General of the Armies John J. “Black Jack” Pershing directed that the band be organized, built on the tradition of the European military bands he had heard during the First World War. “Pershing’s Own” provides music support for the leadership of the United States, to include all branches of government, and to a wide spectrum of national and international events in support of Soldiers and their Families, public diplomacy, memorial affairs, community and international relations, and recruiting initiatives. Its mission is to help connect the Army with the American people. Its Soldiers represent all of the heroic men and women who stand around the world in defense of our freedom. Through their musical education, continual training, and masterful performance these outstanding Soldiers truly embody the excellence that is found across America’s Army.
The U.S. Army Band became widely known during its early years for radio broadcasts featured on several national networks. During World War II, the band was ordered overseas and performed concerts throughout North Africa and Europe, becoming the only Washington-based band to participate in a theater of war, and earning them the right to display a campaign streamer on their flag. Over the years the band has expanded in scope and diversity, today consisting of over 260 enlisted musicians and support staff and ten official ensembles: The U.S. Army Concert Band, The U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, The U.S. Army Strings (24-piece string ensemble + accordion), The U.S. Army Blues (big band/jazz), The U.S. Army Chorus (men’s chorus), The U.S. Army Band Downrange (pop/rock), The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Brass Quintet, The U.S. Army Voices (mixed voice), and The U.S. Army Woodwind Quintet. Personnel from several elements are combined to create The U.S. Army Orchestra and myriad small chamber ensembles and combos.
Today the musicians of this prestigious unit render musical honors on a regular basis for our Nation’s leaders, foreign dignitaries and heads of state, diplomats, and of course, our veterans. The band’s most important duties are performed in honoring our Nation’s heroes at Arlington National Cemetery. Elements of the band have been visible in support of every presidential inauguration and have been part of the official escort to the president in each inaugural parade since 1925. Also, The U.S. Army Band plays a vital role in music education, often serving as the featured group at prominent music conferences and conventions throughout the Nation and abroad.
“Pershing’s Own” performs free public concerts throughout the year including performances during the summer months on the West Steps of the U.S. Capitol and in area parks throughout the region. During the cooler months, concerts and recitals are performed around the area and at their Fort Myer headquarters, Brucker Hall. The band regularly joins with the 3rd U.S. Infantry, The Old Guard” to present patriotic spectacles such as the weekly summertime Twilight Tattoos and annual performances of the Spirit of America pageant.
*Upon his retirement in 1924, General Pershing was given the title General of the Armies.