The Garden City Telegram

Music salute

Military musicians tackle unique, valuable missions.

Musicians have long been an instrumental part of the nation's military, dating back to fifers and drummers who marched with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

U.S. military bands aren't arm in arm with troops at war today, but skilled military musicians do perform at such unique, important functions as national holiday observances, troop welcome-home celebrations and other community appearances, like the one planned tonight in Garden City.

The U.S. Air Force Academy Concert Band will perform at 7 tonight at Garden City High School.

The show is free, with tickets available at The Telegram. Doors open at 6 p.m. for ticket holders and 6:45 p.m. for the general public.

It's the kind of entertainment that cannot be taken for granted, considering military officials seeking budget savings have been known to set their sights on band operations.

The Pentagon targeted a number of active-duty bands in recent years. Plans called for some groups to shrink by dropping personnel from the ranks.

Of course, cutting musicians may not seem like a big deal in a nation that's spent many years at war in the Middle East.

But with more than $1 trillion devoted to the war on terror, trying to save a relative pittance by reducing military bands only sends a message that the men and women who tote clarinets and flutes each day instead of rifles and hand grenades aren't valuable.

They are. Military bands help boost morale of military personnel, deliver esprit de corps and serve as public relations and recruitment ambassadors for the military.

All audiences enjoy their efforts. During past military band shows in Garden City, local crowds showed their appreciation with numerous standing ovations. The military bands inspire with a mix of patriotic music and other offerings ranging from classical to popular tunes.

Military brass should maintain and support ways to enhance such endeavors, not hinder them — especially in a time of war, when the U.S. military should be at the forefront of our thoughts.

Knowing military band units have been vulnerable makes tonight's show all the more worthy of our support and heartfelt salute.