U.S. Marine Corps musicians are among artists who President Donald J. Trump honored Nov. 21 during a ceremony in the East Room.
The president awarded the National Medal of Arts to the approximately 6,500 musicians of the United States military in addition to other recipients. On behalf of his fellow military musicians, Army Staff Sgt. Jan Knutson, a guitarist with The U.S. Army Band “Perishing’s Own” accepted the award, which is given to individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States.
Before presenting the medal, which is one of the U.S. government’s highest awards, President Trump said, “[military musicians] touch the hearts of service members of the frontlines, wounded veterans in hospitals, Gold Star families at military funerals, and Americans everywhere.”
The Marine Corps’ musical assets include 10 field bands, “The Commandant’s Own” Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.
For Col. Jason Fettig, director of “The President’s Own,” the recognition is “an unexpected and incredibly humbling honor,” he said. As part of its White House mission, his unit has provided music for countless National Arts and Humanities Medal ceremonies through the years to help recognize some of the finest and most influential artists. “It is an incredible privilege to now be counted among them with this very special honor from our president,” said Fettig who joined the Marine Corps in 1997 as a clarinetist.
Military musicians honor and inspire their fellow service members, foster the support of Americans, assist in recruiting and retention programs, and promote U.S. national interests around the world.
“Marine Corps musicians are constantly in the public eye and are proud to uphold the Marine Corps core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment,” said CWO4 Jack Davis, commanding officer of the Marine Detachment, Naval School of Music in Virginia Beach, Va., the first stop after recruit training for instrumentalists and vocalists seeking to join the ranks of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps bands.
“The level of integration at the Navy School of Music between the Marine Detachment and Navy leadership at the school is a model for the coordinated training indicated in the Commandant’s Planning Guidance. We have been able to identify core competencies and fleet relevant training required by both services to provide basic, intermediate and advanced-level MOS training for both services.”
Davis, a trumpet instrumentalist who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1995, continued, “This integration also serves to reinforce the importance of Navy-Marine Corps integration throughout the career development of both the Marines and Sailors.”
In public concerts, military funerals and other ceremonies, service bands keep alive the rich history and legacy of America’s military at more than 35,000 events annually. They also provide an essential element in maintaining troop morale and esprit de corps at home and abroad, to include those deployed on the front lines protecting freedom around the globe.
In addition to America’s military musicians, President Trump honored Allison Krauss, bluegrass, folk, gospel and country singer; Sharon Percy Rockefeller, arts leader, policymaker, and president and CEO of the public television and radio station WETA in Arlington, Va.; and actor Jon Voight with the National Medal of Arts.