WILLIAM HAYES | STAFF WRITER
For most Americans, Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, was a massive and special event, but this was certainly the case for APSU alumnus Sam Barlow, who is currently a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, serving as a trombonist in the Marine band, “The President’s Own.”
Barlow graduated from APSU with a Bachelor’s of Science in Music Education, which led to a Master’s in Music at the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music. Officially graduating in 2001, Barlow became a part of “The President’s Own” Marine Band in 2004, and he received the position of “principal trombone” in 2013.
This year marked the 55th Inauguration “The President’s Own” has performed at, its lineage going all the way back to the year 1801. Its first enactment was for Thomas Jefferson’s Inauguration. This is the only group of performers to play at all three events of the Inauguration: the Intro, the Swearing-In, and the Salute to the Armed Forces Inaugural Ball.
The 58th Inauguration is the fourth time Gunnery Sergeant Barlow has participated in.
“I’ve performed for Bush’s in 2001,” Barlow said. “I’ve performed at both of Obama’s in 2009 and in 2013.”
The security process of the event is thorough and extensive. Even “The President’s Own” had to endure it while being held in the Capitol for quite some time.
Once the security screening is over, the band emerged from the capitol, staring out into a crowd of thousands upon thousands of Americans staring right back at them.
“You emerge to see a giant crowd,” Barlow said. “You’re staring at nothing but an ocean of humanity. It is a very significant event.”
During the Swear-In, they were the group that performed the piece “Hail Columbia” during the segment of Mike Pence vice-president swear-in, and they then played “Hail to the Chief” when President Donald Trump took his oath. This was the same song they played previously for the arrival of leaving-president, Barack Obama.
After the Swear-In came the march down Pennsylvania Avenue, with “The President’s Own” leading another Marine Marching Band, “The Division’s Own” of the 2nd Marine Corps Division. Following that, they serve as the main performers at the Inaugural Ball Circuit, and even after playing a day’s worth of music, they continued to play well on into the night.
Barlow is now stationed in Washington D.C., following his fellow Marine Band members wherever they go. Sometimes he plays solo performances, some with a few band members and some with the entire band, as the Marine Band’s concerts varies in number of performers.
The band did not stop at the Inauguration. The band performs 300 times a year at the White House, and that is just the White House alone. Attending a state dinner or playing for the Marine Commandant, they perform pretty much anywhere where the president is. Each year, the band sets off on a cross-country tour, playing in five different regions of the U.S., bringing music to many civilians and servicemen alike.
To learn more about “The President’s Own”, go to www.marineband.marines.mil.