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The Drumline Battery of the University of Delaware Fightin' Blue Hen Marching Band (UDMB) will represent UD and the state in the Presidential escort for UD alumnus Joseph R. Biden, Jr. after his swearing in as the 46th President of the United States on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C.
UD was selected as only one of two civilian groups invited by the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) to participate in the physical escort, as the majority of the inaugural events will be virtual. The Howard University drumline will also perform, honoring its alumna Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris.
“It is a tremendous honor for the University of Delaware Marching Band Drumline Battery to be one of only two civilian groups participating in the inaugural events in person on Wednesday,” said UD President Dennis Assanis. “We are excited to share our UD pride with the world, and we will all be cheering on our students as they help celebrate this amazing milestone for a fellow Blue Hen.”
The blue and gold contingent for the Presidential escort represents a small portion of the more than 300 members of the full UD Marching Band. Thirty-five performers including current freshmen and recent alumni will travel to D.C., led by Marching Band Director Heidi I. Sarver and Assistant Director Jim Ancona.
The drumline will perform two selections: “Blue Hen Cadence” composed by Ancona, and a piece composed by UDMB’s former graduate assistant, Eric Carr. Carr is now an active corporal and tenor drum player in the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
Following the inaugural ceremonies and a visit to the Arlington National Cemetery, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will receive a Presidential Escort from 15th Street to the White House. In addition to the drumlines, the escort will include representatives of every branch of the military, including the U.S. Army Band, a Joint Service Honor Guard, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard and Fife and Drum Corps from the 3rd U.S. Infantry “The Old Guard.”
“We are thrilled that our students have this opportunity to appear on the international stage at such a momentous occasion,” said Mark Clodfelter, interim director UD’s School of Music. “I extend my wholehearted gratitude and congratulations to Professors Sarver and Ancona, and to the entire faculty body of the School of Music who inspire and support our students’ success.”
The University was informed of its selection by the PIC in early January and quickly began preparations for the inaugural festivities. The UD band is no stranger to performing for the President-elect, however, as they have had the opportunity to do so on several occasions, including the 2009 Inauguration, a welcome home ceremony at the conclusion of Biden’s second term as Vice President, and at the “Biden is Back” pep rally at UD in April 2017.
With extensive COVID-19 and security measures for this year’s big event, the experience on Inauguration Day will certainly be unique.
“Members of the UD marching band have experienced many emotions since we received our invitation to be part of the Presidential escort. It’s not just an honor; it’s also quite humbling,” said Sarver. “Being able to participate in this American tradition first-hand is incredibly meaningful for our students. This particular Inauguration is very personal to our Blue Hens as we celebrate our alum, President-elect Joe Biden, as the new leader of the free world. What an amazing moment for the UD community, and for our country!"
The UD Marching Band (UDMB), formed in 1946 with just 15 musicians, is now a 300+ member organization that performs at football games and numerous other local, regional and national events. Though the UDMB is housed in the University’s School of Music, over 80% of the UDMB members are non–music majors. Students from all of the colleges within the University are represented each year. On average, over 90 different majors and degree programs are represented by the total membership.
Founded in 1743 and chartered by the state in 1833, the University of Delaware today is a land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant university. State-assisted and privately controlled, the research-intensive, technologically advanced university offers degrees in a broad range of disciplines across nine colleges. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies UD as a research university with very high research activity—a designation accorded less than 3%of U.S. colleges and universities. UD ranks among the nation’s top 100 universities in federal R&D support for science and engineering. UD is home to the Biden Institute, a research and policy center launched in 2017 focused on developing public policy solutions on issues ranging from economic reform and environmental sustainability to civil rights, criminal justice, women’s rights and more. UD is also the proud home of the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. is a graduate of the University of Delaware. His long and distinguished career in public service has provided an inspiring example of the power of a University of Delaware education.
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