DENVER (CBS4) – It seems a natural fit, the 101st Army Band of the Colorado National Guard playing at the concert and fireworks finale for Independence Eve at Civic Center Park.
The band is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, and members agree there’s no better place to do it than with the 100,000 who gather for the concert.
“It’s a blast,” said Sgt. 1st Class David Morrill. “It’s great to get out there in front of our fellow citizens of Colorado and share the Independence Day holiday.”
This will be the third year the military band has performed at the concert. Band members admit that first year was startling when they reached the fireworks finale.
“The part I remember the most is the fact we played the ‘1812 Overture’ when the big finale of all the fireworks happened,” Staff Sgt. Lance Christensen said.
“We could not hear a thing, all we could see was our commander up there, hoping we were following him and I don’t think it would have mattered and everybody is cheering. The whole sky is exploding and we’re playing as loud as we can and nobody can hear us but it’s wonderful.”
“We plan the fireworks music in advance and really work on the endurance to keep going and going and going for eight minutes,” Morrill said, “and I didn’t realize this, but the first time the fireworks fire off you can’t hear yourself so it’s always a challenge to play without being able to hear.”
But it’s a challenge this Army band is proud to take on as part of its mission to get out into the community.
For Morrill, it’s a very personal connection.
“Last time I looked it was about 1 percent of the country has ever served in the military. There can be this growing divide of civilians and military members as they live on base. It’s nice to get out there and share that message and keep that connection between military communities and civilian communities.”
Christensen describes the mission of these bands as being the friendly face of the military.
“There is no feeling like it to have people so intensely patriotic and to have them so excited to see us and to honor the military as we honor them. It’s a dream come true in a lot of ways. It’s what I’ve striven for all these years as musician and I didn’t even know it.”
For Morrill, using music to bring the military and civilian worlds together makes perfect sense.
“It’s the universal language. Everybody loves music. It speaks in different ways to different people and brings us all together.”
The band will also perform in Fort Collins on July 4, 2017.