American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) Headquarters Band: A Tribute to Sacrifice and Remembrance

Published: 25 March 2024

By Doughboy Foundation Staff


American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) Headquarters Band, official ensemble of the National World War I Memorial, sponsored by the Doughboy Foundation.

National World War One Memorial Brass Ensemble Salutes WWI History and Patriotism

In the heart of Washington, D.C., where history whispers its solemn tales, stands the National World War One Memorial, a tribute to the sacrifices made during one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th century. Amidst its grandeur and solemnity, there exists a musical embodiment of honor and remembrance: the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) Headquarters Band, the official ensemble of the National World War I Memorial.

Sponsored by the Doughboy Foundation, and comprising ten talented musicians, this ensemble has become synonymous with honoring the legacy of the Great War, performing renditions of the national anthem and “God Bless America” at major sporting events and ceremonies of national significance.

With America’s entrance into World War I and the mobilization of a huge force, military bands increased in number as well as strength due to the efforts of General John Joseph (“Blackjack”) Pershing who was appointed Commander of the AEF in Europe. There was a need for music in the military to provide for ceremonies, parades, concerts, and for the general morale of troops.

The AEF Headquarters Band recreates the music heard during 1918-1919 at the AEF HQ in Chaumont France with the familiar melodies like Over There, Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag, Keep The Home Fires Burning, K-K-K-Katy, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, It’s a Long Way To Tipperary and the always-popular marches by John Philip Sousa. The band also performs music written by African American composers James Reese Europe, W.C. Handy, and Eubie Blake. The band wears reproductions of the Doughboy uniforms worn by musicians of the time with the insignia of the AEF HQ on their left shoulder.

Since its inception, the band has been an integral part of commemorating the sacrifices of those who fought in the war, delivering heartfelt performances at the National World War One Memorial in and around Washington, DC. Their music resonates across the solemn grounds of the memorial, paying homage to the millions who served over a century ago.

AEF Headquarters Band ensembles have already been seen by many thousands of Americans while performing and major league sports events, and will be doing more such performances this summer.

The AEF HQ Band stands ready to lend its musical tribute to major sporting events and other gatherings of national significance. Their repertoire, which seamlessly blends reverence with musical brilliance, serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring legacy of those who served during World War One.

For inquiries regarding performances or engagements, please contact Kevin Paul, Operations Manager for the Doughboy Foundation,  via email at [email protected]. As the AEF Headquarters Band continues to honor the legacy of those who served in the Great War, their music serves as a testament to the enduring power of unity, resilience, and patriotism.

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