The lights dim and a high-octane stadium anthem blares from the sound system. Spot lights dart in every direction as members of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) in camouflage ACU’s begin throwing t-shirts into the excited crowd. The result of the music and the giveaway is a crowd brought to a fever-pitch.
This is not a scene from a concert or a professional sporting event, but rather the military’s largest public outreach program of the year, The Spirit of America (SOA).
The tour continues this weekend at the EagleBank Arena (formerly Patriot Center) in Fairfax, VA on September 18 and 19 with shows at 10:30 am and 7:30 pm on Friday and 2:00 and 7:30 pm on Saturday.
People from all over the country are in attendance.
“I’m really excited to see what the performance entails,” said Sunny Bittle of California. Bittle and her companion Rick A. Conrad are on a cross-country trip and made a point to take in the free military show. “We extended our schedule so we could do this.”
Lauren M. Ortiz, mother of two had a comparatively shorter trip to attend SOA. Ortiz saw an ad for the 2-hour show on a homeschool website and decided to make the trip from Baltimore with her sons Gabe L. Ortiz, 8, and Julian A. Ortiz, 5.
Ortiz is seeing SOA for the first time. She saw the educational benefit to the show’s review of how the U.S. Army has impacted American History since its inception.
“We just started our home school year, and we are studying the American Revolution,” said Ortiz.
“This is a fun field trip for us,” said Ortiz.
Another group on a field trip to SOA is St. Michael’s Catholic School. Monika A. Herdick is a chaperone and hopes the show helps the children build a sense of patriotism.
“I’m very excited and looking forward to this,” said Herdick.
Elaine L. Morse of Annapolis is returning to SOA for the third time.
“I just think its wonderful,” said Morse. “I think its so patriotic. Very, very professional.”
SOA’s theme for the 2015 tour is “Trusted Professional”. The message is that the military is entrusted to safeguard our nations interest, a responsibility and honor servicemen and women take seriously.
The Old Guard soldiers in SOA have been rehearsing for the show for over a month and Morse is impressed with their dedication.
“I really appreciate the extra effort,” said Morse.
For more information on “Spirit of America” and to order tickets, visit www.spiritofamerica.mdw.army.mil or call 1-866-239-9425.