Sustaining what is now an American tradition: The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes as “America’s Band”

Photo above: The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes performing in Savannah’s “Irish Parade” in 1959, led by Millard Crary

In 1955, while a fledgling pipe band awaited a director and secondhand pipes and kilts, The Citadel instrumental band received this invitation from the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee in Savannah Georgia:

The pipes band wouldn’t be ready to perform in Savannah, though a set of used bagpipes from Fort Carson was secured for delivery later that year by Gen. Mark Clark, the college’s president at the time.

The instrumental band wanted to perform, but had its own challenge, as was expressed in the college’s letter of response:

“We are definitely interested in performing in this fine parade. However, we are faced with the problem of the expenses of transporting the cadets to Savannah and return by bus and of feeding them at least one meal while they are there.”

Records indicate that the band, sans pipers, did travel to Savannah with the help of donations.

Later that year under Clark’s leadership, the pipe band became fully outfitted. To train the new pipers, Clark hired C.W.O. Millard Crary, who was head of the 6th Army Pipe Band during Clark’s command.

The pipes band played publicly for the first time during the Parents’ Day football game in 1955. The full Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes then began to perform on campus, around South Carolina, and around the region, including in many of Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parades.

Citadel “Band and Pipes” performing during half-time in 1961

Fast forward to 2019, and the now world-renowned Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes is again working to obtain gifts to help support travel, but this time it is to represent the entire nation as “America’s Band 2020” on the revered global stage of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The event runs Aug. 7 – 29.

The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes performing in The Royal Edinburgh Tattoo 2015

The band will represent America for the fourth time, and remains the only U.S. military college band to have received the coveted invitation to perform on behalf of the nation in the world’s most famous military music festival and to enjoy all of the international press and accolades that go with it.

The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes posing for photo with Brigadier David Allfrey, producer of The Royal Edinburgh Tattoo, with the Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 2015

Here’s how you can help

As an invited member of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2020 cast, lodging and meals are provided for the 80 – 90 band and staff members making the trip to represent America in Edinburgh, Scotland 2020. However, the transportation of the ensemble and all of its equipment is not covered. That is where the band’s generous donors come into the picture.

The Citadel Foundation is managing donations for America’s Band 2020. To find out how you can help, please call Bill Yaeger at (843) 953-3842 or visit The Citadel Foundation’s website to donate. All contributions are greatly appreciated.

Tickets to attend the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle can be purchased on the event website here.

See a display of historic Regimental Band and Pipes items from The Citadel archives on the first floor of The Danial Library through fall 2020.

The “Citadel Band and Bagpipes” performing in Moncks Corner Christmas Parade, Dec. 3, 1959