Michigan Marching Band puts on impressive display memorializing 9/11


I spent a lot of time in downtime Ann Arbor on Friday and Saturday, and the town was buzzing with energy for the second Michigan Wolverines home football game of the 2021 season.

The streets were full of students clad in maize-and-blue casual wear as countless khaki-shorted, running-shoe-wearing Michigan Dads carried M Den bags.

I was excited to watch the game, too, but not necessarily for the football. It was because I read a story on September 8 titled "Michigan Marching Band commemorates 20th anniversary of 9/11 with ‘most spectacular halftime show to date.'"

I wanted to see the band, which has only performed twice at a football game since 2019 due to the pandemic, put on a huge show, full of pagentry and making full use of this being one of the few U-M football games to happen at night.

But instead of showing the halftime tribute at the stadium, the TV broadcast featured commercials plus highlights of games by, like, Southeastern Northern Alabama State College vs. Eastern Christian Southern Methodist Commonwealth University as loud men talked loudly over the video clips.

Thankfully, the marching band's spectacular presentation—which included remarkable choreography accompanied by lasers, glowing orbs, and high-powered flashlights—is now on YouTube.

“We the people will tell our story of those lost in New York, at the Pentagon and on Flight 93; and the first responder heroes who ran into harm’s way,” said Michigan Marching Band announcer Carl Grapentine during the show. “We the people tell our story of the incredible bravery of service members who defend our freedom.”

“Nothing like this has ever been done before by a college marching band. Ever,” said John Pasquale, director of the band, to Michigan News.

The music in the program included:

- “Summon The Heroes,” John Williams
- “Mambo” (West Side Story), Leonard Bernstein
- New York Medley: “New York State of Mind,” Billy Joel; and “Empire State of Mind,” Angela Hunte, Alicia Keys, Alexander Shuckburgh, Bert Keyes, Janet Sewell-Ulepic, Shawn Carter and Sylvia Robinson
- “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” Lin-Manuel Miranda
- “This Land is Your Land/Stars and Stripes Forever,” Woody Guthrie, John Philip Sousa

Musical arrangements were by Scott Boerma, Jay Bocook, and Chuck Ricotta, with choreography by Joan Noble-Pruett.

Whether you think anything social or political should be a part of sports is one thing, but if you judge the marching band's creation on its own merits, you'd have to give them a win as big as the Wolverines' 31-10 victory over the Washington Huskies. 

All the M Den Dads would surely agree.

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.