KINGS POINT, N.Y., Mar. 18, 2016 - The United States Merchant Marine Academy’s (USMMA) Regimental Band, “George M. Cohan’s Own”, and Color Guard marched in New York City’s 255th St. Patrick’s Day Parade. This year, they were one of the first bands to march in the parade. They followed U.S Congress and Senate representatives and led officials from the Government of Ireland.
Close to fifty band members, playing snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, cymbals, trumpets, French horns, trombones, euphoniums, tubas, saxophones, clarinets, piccolos and barritones, joined the Color Guard to complete the 1½- mile march up Fifth Avenue, in our nation’s oldest and largest parade. Enjoying a sunny and Spring-like day, they were met with cheers from friends, family, alumni, active-duty military, Veterans and spectators who complimented them for their talent and thanked them for their service. At Kings Point, midshipmen and parents also watched the band, during a very special Cookie Cafe. Faculty and staff also watched, during a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon, hosted by the USMMA Employee Association.
They sounded wonderful as they played familiar Irish and American tunes, including “Life on the Ocean Wave,” “Officer of The Day,” "Iowa Brigade," and a George M. Cohan medley which included “Over There” and “Give My Regards to Broadway.” Superintendent Rear Adm. James A. Helis, USMS, said, ““The Band and Color Guard did an outstanding job representing the Academy. We are all very proud of the efforts of the Midshipmen as well as Music Director Capt. Ken Force and Band Company Officer Lt. Antoinette Waller”
Regimental Band Master, Midshipman 1st Class Steven Blake said, “being a part of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, living in Deer Park, NY. Although, I am only half Irish, I have strong feelings of pride for this day and for the country of my ancestors. As an American of Irish heritage, knowing what hardships they faced upon arrival, I have a greater appreciation for how, in America, hard work and persistence are what you need to truly be successful and rise up in society.”
Regimental Commander, Thomas Hill, summed up the day by saying, "The St. Patrick’s Day Parade was a very positive experience. Our band looked great, and they made me proud to be a Kings Pointer! "
Click: USMMA Regimental Band at the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, to access photos.
The USMMA Regimental Band has a long history of playing at significant events since it began in 1943. They have represented the Academy at all the Presidential Inaugural Parades, the Miss America Pageant, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Cotton Bowl Half-Time Show on New Year's Day, and countless other national and international events. A singular honor was bestowed upon the Band in 1999 by the descendants of the late George M. Cohan. In 1917, while living in Kings Point, home of the Academy, Mr. Cohan composed “Over There,” the anthem to America’s doughboys serving in World War I, for which he was later presented a Congressional Gold Medal by President Franklin Roosevelt, the only American song to be so recognized. The Band was instrumental in helping win the fight to save Cohan’s historic home in Kings Point, just a quarter mile from the Academy gate. In appreciation, Cohan’s granddaughters, Helen Ronkin Lafaso and Mary Ronkin Ross, granted to the Band the right to be called, “George M. Cohan’s Own” “for now and the future” Thus, Kings Point became the First federal academy band with an officially bestowed title.
To hear The USMMA Regimental Band, “George M. Cohan’s Own” click here: Sounds
By Veronica Cassidy Barry