The United States Army Field Band, The United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, The U.S. Army Drill Team and the Continental Color Guard and Presidential Salute Battery of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) returned to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in support of the National Park Service’s celebration of Defenders’ Day September 10, 2022, in Baltimore, Maryland.
“Given the many challenges of the past two years we are particularly excited tonight to welcome you back to the fort for this evening’s celebration,” said Dave Moore, the Fort McHenry Superintendent, as he welcomed the crowd.
Known as Baltimore’s oldest holiday Defenders’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the successful defense of Baltimore in 1814 and the writing of the nation’s national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“It is fitting that we gather as a community to commemorate the service of Baltimore’s many defenders both military and civilian, men and women, enslaved and free. History is the story of individuals acting at a time of circumstance and in 1814 ordinary people from a variety of backgrounds united in a common purpose and accomplished an extraordinary feat in the successful defeat for their home, defense for their home,” said Moore.
The evening’s events kicked off with Maj. Gen. Allan M. Pepin, commanding general, Joint- Task Force National Capital Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington, swearing in 22 of the Army’s newest Soldiers from the Baltimore Recruiting Battalion.
“It is my extreme pleasure to visit Baltimore here on Fort McHenry to commemorate Defenders’ Day, a humbling opportunity to reflect on a key part of our nation’s history, at this historical landmark, which is a symbol of valor, courage and loyalty to a noble cause,” said Pepin before leading the recruits, including individuals from Mali, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Bangladesh, in the oath of enlistment. “I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be, but right here as these Future Soldiers take their oaths, and swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,”
Rick Carriker, of Eldersburg, Maryland, alongside his wife Beverly attended the swearing-in ceremony in support their step-grandson Derek Hannon of Carrol County Maryland.
Carriker, a Navy veteran, said that he was impressed by the ceremony which included Continental Color Guard presenting the colors and performances by The United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and The U.S. Army Drill Team.
“When I was sworn in, it was in a little room with three people,” Carriker said comparing his enlistment to that of his step-grandson’s.
Baltimore County resident Sarah Chrzanowski has been attending the Defenders’ Day celebration for years.
“We can show respect for our Soldiers, so they know that they are supported here specifically in this Baltimore area where we have so much rich history when it comes to the Army,” said Chrzanowski.
After the swearing in ceremony, The U.S. Army Field Band’s Ceremonial Band and Soldiers’ Chorus took the stage.
The performance at Defenders’ Day was Sergeant Ajani Franklin’s first time seeing the Field Band perform. Franklin is a first-year recruiter representing U.S. Army Recruiting Station Mondawmin Mall, Baltimore Company, Baltimore Recruiting Battalion, He said that he thinks it is important for new recruits to see performances like this because it allows them to immerse themselves into the culture of the Army before they head into the service.
One crowd favorite of the Field Band’s performance was the song Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy which included the addition of Staff Sergeant Nicholas Feemster and Staff Sergeant Lamar Riddick, the first rap artists hired into a military music organization within the Department of Defense.
“I love the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. That’s a fun song,” Chrzanowski said of the performance. “I really enjoyed [it] and that they put some Baltimore content in there.”
Franklin, a Baltimore native, said that he thinks introducing the rappers into the band is a good way to show the diversity of the Army to youth. He also added that it adds to the music culture of the Army.
Following the first half of the Field Band’s performance, the Presidential Salute Battery participated in a mock bombardment recreating the Battle of Baltimore. The 1814 battle inspired Francis Key Scott to pen the Star-Spangled Banner which the Field Band played as the U.S. flag was raised above Fort McHenry.
To end the Defender’s Day celebration, fireworks lit up the sky with the Field Band playing a patriotic underscore.