Concert at Jefferson Memorial

The weekend of September 21 - 23 was scheduled to be a banner weekend for the music forces of the National Capital and Virginia Division of the Salvation Army. Musicians from around the division were anticipating the visit of the New York Staff Band for a Music Councils. The final engagement of the weekend was to be a joint concert with the Staff Band and the National Capital Band, at the Jefferson Memorial in downtown Washington, DC. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, the events were cancelled. However, the required permits for the Jefferson Memorial concert had already been obtained.

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 23, the National Capital Band gathered at the front steps of the Jefferson Memorial. The band was augmented by additional players from the bands of the Fairfax (Virginia), Arlington Citadel (Virginia), and Prince George’s (Maryland) corps. Even though the weather was warm and sunny, extra security was evident and the sight-seeing crowd was noticeably thinner than usual. The band began with The Star-Spangled Banner, evoking an enthusiastic response from the small crowd gathered on the steps leading to the memorial. Bandmaster Lars-Otto Ljungholm chose a mixture of American patriotic melodies (America the Beautiful, National Hymn), classic Salvation Army marches (God’s Children, Bognor Regis), and American spirituals (Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen). The crowd showed their appreciation with applause following the final two items, Onward, Christian Soldiers and former NCB Deputy Bandmaster Robert C. Schramm’s arrangement of God Bless America.

A somber and somewhat frightening reminder of the events of the immediate past was evident during the concert. As the band was playing, three military helicopters appeared over the South Lawn of the White House, which is visible from the Jefferson Memorial. As jet fighters patrolled over the city, two of the helicopters circled over the area, while the third landed at the White House. One passed directly over the band, flying no more than 150 feet from the ground, with the side doors open and U.S. Marines armed with machine guns clearly visible.

The Jefferson Memorial concert was part of a busy period for members of the band. In addition to their regular corps duties, many members of the band were directly involved in the relief efforts at the Pentagon. Units of the band participated musically in a radio fund-raising event at the Tyson’s Corner shopping mall in northern Virginia on Friday, September 21, and in two religious services held at the Pentagon on Sunday, September 22.

Source: Brass Crest Staff Report