Col. Don Schofield, commander and conductor of the United States Air Force Band, accepted the National Medal of Arts on behalf of all Air Force band members, past and present, from both active duty and the Air National Guard at a ceremony at the Pentagon, Dec. 2. The award was presented by Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.
In 2019, President Donald Trump awarded the National Medal of Arts to the musicians of the United States Military “for personifying excellence in music and service to country. From concert halls to war zones, these extraordinary patriots have inspired and uplifted their fellow Americans over generations with their incredible courage and breathtaking musical talent.” On Nov. 21, 2019, at the White House, Army Staff Sgt. Jan Knutson, a guitarist who is a member of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” accepted the award from Trump on behalf of all military musicians.
The National Medal of Arts is awarded by the president of the United States to artists and arts patrons 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.” Previous recipients include Morgan Freeman, Ron Howard, John Williams, Stephen King and Ray Charles.
During the ceremony, Schofield reflected “music provides a unique platform to share a country’s history, culture, values and people, enabling the United States, its allies and new partners to gain a deeper understanding and respect for each other.”
Since 1941, Air Force bands stationed around the world have leveraged the power of music to effect change through attraction rather than coercion. The bands’ mission to honor, inspire and connect serves as a guide that enables missions to use culture, values and respect to project national influence to strategic audiences. Consisting of 11 active duty and five Air National Guard bands stationed around the world, more than 700 members of Air Force bands harness their talent and passion to execute 4,000 missions annually, reaching tens of millions audience members around the world.