Tinley Park Marine provides ‘inaugural soundtrack’
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org January 16, 2013 5:20PM
Brandon Eubank, of the U.S. Marine band, plays at the Aviation Ball. | Supplied photo
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:32PM
Brandon Eubank is hoping for pleasant temperatures and dry skies Monday in Washington, D.C. But if it is cold and raining, he still will do his job outside the U.S. Capitol.
Hey, he’s a Marine. Would anyone think a little rain or cold could stop him?
Staff Sgt. Eubank, 26, who grew up in Tinley Park, plays trumpet in the U.S. Marine Band. Nicknamed “The President’s Own,” the band has played at every presidential inauguration since Thomas Jefferson in 1801. He gave the band its nickname.
Four years ago, while a new member of the band, Eubank played at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. He’ll be there again Monday, playing “Hail to the Chief” moments after Obama takes the oath of office.
“It’s always an honor to play in the inauguration. It’s not a political event. It’s always nice to be part of American history,” said Eubank, who graduated from Andrew High School and Northwestern University before joining the band.
Obama takes the oath at noon Eastern time. But the band’s long day starts at 10 a.m. when it begins playing a rousing collection of patriotic songs and marches, including some written by John Philip Sousa.
“Some people in our organization like to say we’ve been providing the inaugural soundtrack since 1801,” said Eubank, one of 12 Illinoisans in the band.
In those days, when cross-country travel was more difficult — and in a nod to winter weather — the inauguration was not held until March.
Those watching Monday on TV might get a glimpse of Eubank. The band will be sitting at the base of the podium where Obama will be sworn in and deliver his inauguration address.
“We are right there while he is speaking. It absolutely is a thrill to be sitting on the platform looking out over the National Mall where an estimated 2 million people will be,” Eubank said.
Let’s see: 2 million people. The president. A veritable “who’s who” of Washington, D.C. A host of dignitaries. Television cameras capturing and broadcasting every moment worldwide. Ah, there’s no pressure, is there?
“We strive for excellence, not perfection. But we have an outstanding group of musicians, professionals from the country’s greatest music schools,” Eubank said. “There’s a lot of pride. It’s fair to say we want to be doing this. We want the pressure. We are the president’s band.”
And if it’s a raw, wet day?
“It’s not easy, but we are trained for this. Here’s a secret: That’s what plastic mouthpieces are for. They make it easier to play when it’s very cold,” he said.
After the inauguration ceremony, the band will march down Pennsylvania Avenue in a parade from the Capitol to the White House. Monday night, the band will play at the Commander In Chief’s Ball.
When all the inauguration hoopla fades, the band returns to its routine, playing at official functions at the White House, providing “any type of music they want,” Eubank said. It plays at state dinners, various ceremonies, visits by foreign dignitaries, and has a concert every Fourth of July.
“Working in the White House is kind of surreal. I’ve been there many times, but each time I just look around and appreciate it. You’re playing music at the White House, not something you do every day. It’s a very humbling experience,” Eubank said.
Eubank, who is getting married in August, sees himself making the band his career.
“When you win a spot in the band, you stay for a very long time. It’s a great, venerable ensemble. You have a place in history,” he said.