Field Band performs tribute to Medal of Honor recipient
July 10, 2008
FORT MEADE, Md. (Army News Service, July 10, 2008) -- As many Americans continued to celebrate the nation's birthday July 5, a special concert in Latrobe, Pa., by the U.S. Army Field Band honored an American who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country: Medal of Honor recipient Spc. Ross McGinnis.
McGinnis, a native of Knox, Pa., was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor last month for his actions on Dec. 4, 2006, when he threw himself atop a grenade which had landed in his Humvee. His actions saved the lives of the other four Soldiers in the vehicle.
A video telling the story of Spc. McGinnis was part of the concert Saturday at the Greater Latrobe High School Auditorium performed by the Soldiers' Chorus and the Concert Band. The video, created by Soldiers Radio and Television, combined interviews with those who knew McGinnis with family photos and other footage. Field Band arranger Staff Sgt. Adrian Hernandez composed a special musical accompaniment to the video for the live performance.
At the request of the band's commander, Col. Thomas H. Palmatier, Hernandez wrote his musical tribute in just under a week. He named the piece "Choice of Honor."
Hernandez said the musical tribute "draws most of its inspiration from the Army Strong theme ... providing a sense of loss and inspiration mixed into one. It says a lot to his character to react the way he did, and this is the story I try to convey through the music."
The video and musical presentation followed the band's playing of the Armed Forces Salute. McGinnis' friends and extended family who attended the concert were visibly moved by the audience's standing ovation at the conclusion of "Choice of Honor."
Parents Tom and Romayne McGinnis, and sister Katie, met with members of the band and chorus following the concert.
"We get treated like we're royalty but it's really all about Ross," said his father Tom McGinnis. "...We lost a son, and we're really not all that special. It was Ross. He was faced with a situation ... as we go on, we have to face difficult situations. The Army training creates this bond between Soldiers, that is stronger... They depend on each other."
Katie McGinnis also emphasized the camaraderie between Soldiers in explaining her brother's selfless response to the situation.
The U.S. Army Field Band is the service's premier touring musical organization, traveling thousands of miles each year to perform a variety of music to audiences throughout the nation and abroad. Based out of Fort Meade, Md., the band is known as the "Musical Ambassadors of the Army." The organization's four performing components -- the Concert Band, the Soldiers' Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors, and the Volunteers -- each travel more than 100 days annually.