By Alex Doty
They say music is the universal language, and the Coast Guard band has been connecting to people with this language for the past 88 years.
This year, the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival is recognizing and celebrating the music of the Coast Guard during the Walk of Coast Guard History.
First organized in March 1925, the U.S. Coast Guard Band was legislatively recognized by President L.B. Johnson in 1965 as the permanent, official musical representative of the U.S. Coast Guard.
On Sept. 6, 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band became officially incorporated as a nonprofit organization.
Based at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., the 55-member band appears at presidential and cabinet level functions on formal and informal occasions.
And the band has ties to Grand Haven. In 1981, U.S. Coast Guard Band Director Lewis J. Buckley created the tune “Coast Guard City, U.S.A.,” the official march of the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival.
Buckley enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1969, and served as principal trumpet and soloist for six years. He then went on and became the Coast Guard Band’s fifth director at age 27, a post he held for more than 29 years, serving longer as the conductor of one band than any other conductor in the history of American military music.
Recognizing the band and its ties to Grand Haven, a ceremony will take place at noon Friday, Aug. 2, at City Hall. This will formally recognize the band as this year’s Walk of Coast Guard History nominee.