Decrescendo in Force

Lee and I at least agree on the importance of military music.
Let me start by acknowledgimg, with the appropriate weight, that our legislators have a number of important issues in front of them currently. I say that not to belittle the issue at hand, but rather to underscore it.

This is important.

 Currently before the US Senate - having passed a House vote - sits Amendment 48 to H.R. 5293, the 2017 Defense Appropriations Act, which seeks "to limit the Defense Department from using money to have musical military units perform in an official capacity for certain entertainment purposes [...] including dinners, dances, and social events." The impact on the missions performed by military musicians would be huge; this amendment would limit military ensembles' ability to perform in parades, exhibitions, touring programs like Spirit of America, and honors for veterans and active personnel. Also at stake could be pieces that many sports fans would take for granted, like the marching units that perform at Army, Navy, and Air Force football games.

At the risk of hyperbole, it's an affront to John Philip Sousa himself.

It's easy to dismiss military musical ensembles as extracurricular (and as a student affairs professional by trade, I have my own thoughts on the value of "extracurriculars"). But such ensembles serve as valuable ambassadors, advertisement, and recruitment for our armed forces. As more than simply musicians, I was reminded - and heartened - in the facebook group #savemilitarymusic of the stories of military musicians who traded reeds for rounds and went from battery to battery as they took up arms alongside their fellow troops. While their instruments may have inspired their service, it didn't end there.

I'm not against taking a realistic budgetary look at the entirety of defense spending, including potentially scaling back musical missions. Paramount is, of course, the safety of the men and women who serve. But a near complete elimination of musical finding from the appropriations is not the way to go about it.

If you're interested in taking action, there are a few resources below.

Link to contact info for U.S. Senators:

Links to petitions: