By Collen McGee, Fort Riley Public AffairsJune 11, 2018
ABILENE, Kan. -- For seven years, the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home has hosted a concert on the same ground where the former commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces played as an 8-year-old boy. The 1st Infantry Division Band has played on that lawn for all but the one event that happened while they were deployed. For that show, the Kansas Army National Guard's 35th Inf. Div. Band stepped in.
The concert, held the first Saturday of June, is a partnership between the 1st Inf. Div. Band, the Salina Symphony and the Eisenhower complex. It is a salute to Operation Overlord, better known as D-Day. Members of the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard also participate with a historic encampment and a riding demonstration.
"We love having both of them here, so pleased that they are able to participate," said Dawn Hammatt, director of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum about the Fort Riley Soldiers. "We are so pleased to have Fort Riley so close to us and all of these options for us, this is fantastic."
The appreciation goes both ways and the event is something 1st Inf. Div. Band conductor, Matthew David said they strive to excel for and gives the public a chance to get to know about the units from the post.
"We focus a lot of attention to making sure that we have a great program for the audience every year," David said. "In fact, the Eisenhower Library started to include the CG's Mounted Color Guard in 2016. It's a great way for the Kansas community to see two of the 1st Infantry Division's ceremonial units at their best."
Excellence requires preparation and planning. Preparation for the band and Symphony partnership started in December.
"Maestro (Ken) Hakoda and Adrienne Allen, the Salina Symphony Executive Director, contacted me last December to start planning rehearsals and music themes for this year's concert," David said. "In fact, it was right after Christmas that I started writing music for this concert."
Though the band played familiar love songs from the '50s and '60s, the arrangements needed to be written for the instrumentation of the division musicians.
"I have always wanted to do a show with a lot of Frank Sinatra tunes," David said. "I knew that the Symphony at Sunset concert would be the perfect venue for these songs."
Once the theme is decided and the music is written, the bands started rehearsing.
"I started rehearsals for this concert in May," David said. "Up to that month, the band was busy with meeting training requirements for Command Deployment Discipline Program and sending personnel to military professional development courses like Basic Leadership Course. However, I am truly fortunate to have professionals in the 1ID Band who worked hard to present that wonderful performance on 2 June."
Though the tradition of the concert will continue, for David, this was his last performance at the Symphony at Sunset event as he will complete a permanent change of station this summer.
"Though I will PCS to Hawaii, I will never forget the great people I got to work with at this momentous annual event," David said.