By Kristen ParkerAugust 18, 2009
While training to defend the Nation's capital and maintain the United States Army's time honored ceremonies and traditions for the world to see, the Soldiers of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington also prepare each August to tell the Army's story through the Soldiers' eyes, in the unique, patriotic show, Spirit of America.
The more than 300 active-duty Soldiers in Spirit of America are treated like celebrities during the show. They are asked for autographs and photos and thanked for their service. They also have the opportunity to thank the American people for their support. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" join forces each August to form the cast and crew of Spirit of America, one of the Army's largest community relations initiatives.
While Spirit of America is the first time some of these Soldiers go before a live audience, many have extensive experience performing for audiences across the country and throughout the world as part of the Army's elite ceremonial units. As members of the Continental Color Guard, the Commander-in-Chief's Guard, The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Drill Team and The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," these Soldiers regularly serve as Army ambassadors through their performances, but rarely are they together in such a large presentation of patriotism.
During Spirit of America audiences can expect to see Soldiers in period uniforms reenacting key moments in history. These reenactments, from the Revolutionary War to current operations, feature a unique perspective of America history, that of the citizen Soldier. The show includes battle scenes, short periods of simulated gunfire and performances by the Army's elite ceremonial units. With a unique combination of stirring music, historical narration and live action dramatization, Spirit of America is the true story of men and women who have left friends and families behind to protect and defend the United States of America.
The show can trace its history back to the years before World War II when Spirit of America was performed as a military show in the winter months on the grounds of historic Fort Myer in Arlington, Va. The tradition of holding military shows was revived in 1961 by The Old Guard and Pershing's Own to create "Prelude to Taps" a show designed to showcase the Army's history. As the years went on, the time of year and the name of the show continued to evolve until it was eventually named Spirit of America in 1970. The show was retired in 1996, having been performed successfully throughout the Washington area. In the absence of the large, theatrical production, the Army eventually developed what we know today as the Military District of Washington's Twilight Tattoo summer shows. Much smaller and quite different than Spirit of America, these shows developed to help better connect the Army to the thousands of tourists visiting Washington each summer.
Although the Army had developed the smaller Twilight Tattoo shows, there was still a void left by the retirement of Spirit of America. Thus, in 2000 as a part of the Army's 225th Birthday celebration, the Army brought Spirit of America back. It was a chance to take an entertaining, patriotic look at the nation's history.
The show was such a success in 2000 that the Army decided to take the show on the road to Columbus, Ohio for the 2001 season. Unfortunately, as Soldiers were preparing to take Spirit of America on the road for the first time, the terrorist attack on the Pentagon required them to devote their full attention to assisting with recovery operations. As a result, the 2001 performances of Spirit of America were canceled.
In 2002, with American patriotism resolute and the American people united in the cause of freedom, Spirit of America returned with a new vigor. The show was performed in Washington, DC and for the first time, it traveled away from the National Capital Region for performances in Columbus, Ohio.
Since 2002, Spirit of America has traveled to seven cities outside of Washington, taking a brief hiatus in 2006. The show has been performed in Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pa., Albany, N.Y., Worcester, Mass., Rochester, N.Y., Cleveland, Ohio, and Manchester, N.H.
Each year, Spirit of America presents the strength of the nation to the American people as it continues to present the story of America through the eyes of the American Soldier.
For the 2009 season, Spirit of America is scheduled to be performed at the George Mason Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., September 11 and 12, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, September 18 and 19, and at the Dunkin' Donuts Arena in Providence, R.I., September 25 and 26. This year, Spirit of America will celebrate the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer in honoring those who are responsible for training, leading and mentoring Soldiers.
All performances of Spirit of America are free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Ticket information can be obtained by visiting the individual arena websites or by visiting the show's official website: www.soa.mdw.army.mil. Those who already have tickets are encouraged to use their tickets or give them to someone who can. Because the shows are free, they "sell out" quickly, and the goal is to ensure everyone who wants to see the show has an opportunity to do so.
Media interested in covering Spirit of America should contact Kristen Parker at email@example.com or 202-821-8773.