Friday, September 11, 2015
"Spirit of America": Stage play with music depicting entire US military history, at DC Armory, free, from US Army
This morning, I attended the U.S. Army’s “Spirit of America” at the Armory in Washington DC (near RFK Stadium). The basic website is here.
The multi-media "almost arena" stage presentation has two major acts, and a third act epilogue of “Stars and Stripes Forever”.
The two major acts include various skits and testimonials by soldiers, along with singing and drill exercises.
The first act dramatizes US military history through the Civil War, but (with a slow Metro this morning) I got there toward the end, in time to hear the Service Medley honoring all branches of service.
During the Intermission, I could watch the orchestra rehearse.
It is Act 2, about one hour, that really is the heart of the show, and about more familiar history. After a guitar performance, it starts with World War I , then spends more time on World War II, particularly FDR’s charge that the war would affect every American (something we don’t buy today with the Middle East). It focused particularly on the Battle of the Bulge. It moved on to the Korean War, and offered a brief fireworks stage show. During the Vietnam era piece, it mentioned the draft, and then the issues faced by Vietnam era veterans returning home. It moved on to the Persian Gulf War and then to 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq, showing humanitarian work by soldiers in Afghanistan. At the end, there was a sensational performance by the drill team, which included drill and ceremonies with M14 rifles with fixed bayonets, and even the passing of weapons through the air to teammates, to show trust and unit cohesion. During that portion, patrons were asked not to use flash photography, out of concern of distracting the team members and creating a hazard, but there was a projection on a screen on a wall to the side, where one could film.
The presentation mentioned President Truman’s integration of the military in 1948, and of all-black units that fought in Europe during World War II. It mentioned the leadership role of women, but it did not specifically address “don’t ask, don’t tell” or its 2011 repeal
Generally, the presentation sidestepped the political controversies of American military engagements.
The act includes the African-American song “Make Them Hear You” by Richard Dixon. The lyrics mention “the power of the pen”.
It also performed “Citizen Solider” by 3 Doors Down.
In the first act, it performed “Till the Last Shot’s Fired” (Trace Adkins).