History

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For more than 30 years, Spirit of America has told the story of the United States Army through each and every American generation. -

With a unique combination of stirring music, historical narration and live action dramatization, Spirit of America presents the true story of men and women who have left friends and families behind to protect and defend the United States of America. Spirit of America commemorates the brave actions of ordinary men and women who as U.S. Army Soldiers preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.Black and white image of Civil War soldier stands on the stage.

Spirit of America is one of the U.S. Army's largest community outreach events. Since its inception, hundreds of thousands of people have experienced the patriotic pageant. With music, precision drill demonstrations and historical re-enactments, this action-packed performance offers inspiration and entertainment for everyone.

More than 300 active duty U.S. Army Soldiers from the U.S. Army Military District of Washington participate in Spirit of America. Featured are the premier ceremonial troops of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own." Elements of The Old Guard who participate include the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the Caisson Platoon, the Commander-in-Chief's Guard and the U.S. Army Drill Team. These elite units stage and perform dramatic, entertaining and historical re-enactments with production guidance from the U.S. Army Military District of Washington's Office of Ceremonies and Special Events.

Spirit of America can trace its history back to the years before World War II. At that time, on the grounds of Fort Myer in Arlington, Va., the 3rd Cavalry Regiment held military shows during the winter months. In 1961, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment and The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" revived the tradition to showcase the talents of the ceremonial units in the Military District of Washington. These performances, called “Prelude to Taps,” were performed at the North Area Gymnasium, which is now known as Conmy Hall. In the succeeding years, the production schedule shifted to the spring and became associated with the Cherry Blossom Festival.

By 1974, the performances' popularity required a larger venue and the show was moved to the Capital Centre sports arena in Maryland. In 1975, the show was renamed Spirit of America and traveled to Norfolk, Va., for its first performance outside of the National Capital Region. From 1975 through 1996, Spirit of America was the U.S. Army Military District of Washington's premier outreach event. Following a long and distinguished run, Spirit of America was retired in 1996. For the next two years the U.S. Army Military District of Washington experimented with an outdoor production on the grassy slopes of the Washington Monument. Then in 1998, these shows were replaced with the traditional Twilight Tattoo on the White House Ellipse.

Twilight Tattoo already had a long and proud history as a military sunset parade, providing spectators an overview of the U.S. Army and the specialty units of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.

In 2000, the U.S. Army celebrated its 225th birthday with the return of Spirit of America. Since the revival of Spirit of America, the performances have received acclaim and praise as an entertaining and patriotic look at our nation's proud history through the eyes of the American Soldiers.

In 2001, Spirit of America was scheduled to perform in Columbus, Ohio. But on September 11, 2001, those plans changed. As Soldiers were making final preparations for Spirit of America, the terrorist attack on the Pentagon brought a sudden shift in mission requirements. Soldiers devoted their full attention to assisting with the Pentagon recovery operation. As a result, the 2001 performances of Spirit of America were canceled.

In 2002, Spirit of America returned with renewed vigor. With patriotism resolute, the U.S. Army’s core values stood as the centerpiece in the breathtaking performances in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. In 2003, the show was performed in Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh, Pa.

In 2004, Spirit of America was performed in three cities. In addition to performances in Washington, D.C., the show entertained audiences in Albany, N.Y., and Worcester, Mass., with its stirring message of “The Torchbearers.” In 2005, Spirit of America took the “Call to Duty” message to Washington, D.C., Rochester, N.Y., and Cleveland, Ohio.

With the nation at war in 2006, budget shortfalls resulted in the cancellation of Spirit of America. The show returned in 2007 with “Call to Duty: Boots on the Ground” performances in Manchester, N.H., and Pittsburgh, Pa.

In 2008, Spirit of America traveled to Rochester, N.Y., and Worcester, Mass., presenting the “Strength of the Nation.” Spirit of America continued to entertain audiences in 2009 celebrating the “Year of the Noncommissioned Officer” in Fairfax, Va., Columbus, Ohio, and Providence, R.I.

Rounding out the decade, Spirit of America 2010 took the Army story to three locations. Consistent with the 2010 Army theme, U.S. Army - "Strength of the Nation," the Spirit of America theme focused on the "perseverance" and the "resiliency" of our Army across 235 years of selfless service to our Nation with performances in Pittsburgh, Pa., Highland Heights Ky., and Grand Rapids, Mich. The 2011 season was devoted to the uplifting message of perseverance during days of challenge to audiences in Washington, D.C., North Charleston, S.C. and Jacksonville, Fla., as our nation and our Army enter the tenth year of conflict in Afghanistan

Spirit of America is truly an unforgettable experience that for more than 30 years has taken thousands of audience members through an action-packed timeline of American history. As you witness breathtaking ceremonial drills, historical reenactments, soul-stirring music and dramatic real life stories, Spirit of America shows how the Army’s history is also our nation’s history.


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U.S. Army Drill Team