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Airman making ‘inaugural’ performance

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Jan. 06, 2005) -- When Tech. Sgt. Bradley Bennett sings the national anthem Jan. 20 at the presidential inauguration here, it will be a first for both him and the Air Force.

"This will be the first time in history that the Air Force has had such a performing role at the inauguration," said Sen. Trent Lott, Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies chairman. "We're excited (he) will be participating. (This) has got to be one of the most memorable moments of the whole (event.)"

Tech. Sgt. Bradley Bennett.

The inauguration will also be different in that the committee, at the request of the White House, has included more military involvement in the ceremonies.

"The recognition that will go to the military will be more than usual; that is the president's choice. This is about a vision of the future of America, but also a way to express our appreciation for what our military is doing around the world," Senator Lott said.

As a member of the Air Force Band's "Singing Sergeants" based at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., Sergeant Bennett said his being chosen to sing the anthem at the inauguration is special.

"It's a tremendous honor to be chosen for this, and it is very humbling," he said.

While Sergeant Bennett will be the first Airman to sing the national anthem at a presidential inauguration, it will not be the first time the Kent, Ohio, native has performed the song before President Bush.

"I was chosen for the Memorial Day commemoration in 2003 at Arlington National Cemetery," Sergeant Bennett said. "President Bush was there as well as many other dignitaries."

The Singing Sergeants, with Sergeant Bennett, performed together earlier this year for President Reagan's funeral and at a Washington Redskins football game.

While many might be worried about performing in front of the president, Sergeant Bennett said he remains confident in his ability.

"I am not concerned about this. I am excited and honored to do this, and I am looking forward to this," he said. "It is part of my job and something I have had the honor of doing many times for many events. (Because) this is larger in scale and international in nature, it's not 'business as usual,' but I treat every performance the same and prepare for them equally."

Sergeant Bradley is a tenor vocalist and began his Air Force career five years ago. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in music, specializing in vocal performance, from Kent State University, Ohio, in 1996. He is a two-time winner of the Tuesday Music Club’s scholarship competition and was recipient of the Irene Beamer Memorial Scholarship.

Information on the Air Force Band and the Singing Sergeants is available online at www.usafband.com.