The U.S. Army Brass Quintet helped mark a special occasion for the George C. Marshall International Center — the 70th anniversary of George Marshall’s unveiling of the American initiative to help European countries rebuild their economies after World War II.
This plan became known as the Marshall Plan and provided $13 billion — $130 billion in today’s dollars — in aid to 18 western European countries and territories from 1948 to 1952. County residents can see flags representing each of the nations that benefited from the plan hanging in downtown Leesburg. The flags, provided by the George C. Marshall International Center, will be displayed for the rest of the month.
The quintet — made up of Master Sergeant Terry Bigham and Master Sergeant Christian Hinkle on trumpet, Sergeant First Class John Voth on the tuba, Master Sergeant Tommy Lee on the french horn and Staff Sergeant Greg Hamble on the trombone — shared history in addition to playing music. The quintet played selections typical of the WWII era like Lily Marlene, a German poem that was later turned into song just before the war.
One American soldier wanted to play his trumpet one night to relax and his commander told him not to because there was a German sniper in the area. The soldier ignored this and played Lily Marlene anyways. The next morning, the German sniper surrendered and said that as soon as he heard the melody, he thought of his family and friends and couldn’t fight anymore. They American soldier and German sniper shook hands and went their separate ways.
“This tune became wildly loved and known by both Axis and Allied forces,” Hamble said. “So this was a war defying piece of music that helped bring people together despite what was going on.”
They also played some American classics like Soldier Comes Marching Home, Over There, God Bless the USA and Band of Brothers.
The Brass Quintet plays all around the country and world, including special occasions at the White House and for ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
Marshall, the Secretary of State from January 1947 to January 1949, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his post-World War II work, including development of the Marshall Plan. Marshall’s home from 1941 until his death in 1959 is located in downtown Leesburg and has been restored to the period when Marshall and his wife Katherine lived there. Marshall was at home in Leesburg when he received notification that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.