To the International Horn Society and musicians everywhere,
Recently, some attention has been drawn to a bill that has passed the US House of Representatives and is currently being discussed in the US Senate. I have read the text of the proposed HR Amendment #48, found in H.Amdt 1218 to H.R. 5293 for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017. On the surface, the actions suggested in this bill may seem like logical cost-saving measures, but after reading the bill and thinking about its ramifications, I believe this bill has the potential for grave consequences for musical groups in the US armed services. These groups are an important part of our history and culture. In a nutshell, this amendment “limits their ability to play in social functions, dances, and things that are really outside their core competencies and the competencies of the military.” I believe any restriction of the exposure to the public or preventing direct public interaction of these ensembles would constitute a significant cultural loss, a loss of some of the best expression of patriotism and artistry America has to offer. Anyone who has heard one of our military groups knows that performing music at social functions, etc. is well within their “core competencies”—indeed, the US armed forces are blessed with some of the finest musicians in the world.
Military music existed in this country before the Revolutionary War and even at that time was an important contributor to soldier and citizen morale and respite, establishing a strong connection between armed forces and the general citizenry. Music serves to unite communities, and military musical groups, more than any other musical ensemble, unite our country at home and provide similar comfort to American soldiers and their families overseas. They also provide opportunities for talented individuals to express their patriotism in artistic ways. Preventing performances that maintain the military’s connection and trust of the American public would seem to go against this proud expression of patriotism and the founding inclusive principles of our country.
I also believe passing this bill would establish a convenient path to even more cuts and unintended ramifications, which would further compromise the artistic quality, personal investment, and the relationship between the military and the general public. In context of the total defense budget, the amount of money it might save does not seem to warrant the devastating potential effect it could have.
Please encourage your senators to vote against any amendments, motions, or bills which would restrict the use of funding to military bands. To read the text of this bill, look for Rep. McSally’s justification for Amendment 48 in the text of the following:
To contact your US Senator, http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
President, International Horn Society