Changing Times

Picture:  Drill planning

Changing Times

As World War I had changed the band, so too did World War II.  The war caused the band's numbers to drop drastically, and in order to maintain the band's viability women were allowed to march with the R.O.T.C. band for the first time in its history.  "We girls got to march because of the male shortage during and just after the war.  We were thus automatically in R.O.T.C. and participated in at least one inspection parade (before visiting officers) a year," recalls JoAnn Kelly Alexander, who marched with the band from 1945-1947.*  Despite their valuable contributions to the band during wartime, the R.O.T.C. required the band to become all-male once World War II had ended.  One of the concert band veterans, Louis Irene Eddy Alexander, remembers with regret:  "My instrument was the Flute and Marching Band, my favorite - despite the ROTC ruling which forbade a 4-year-experienced, but female, marcher like me from performing on the football field at half-time."*  When remembering 1946, John D Lind recalls, "That year we had an all male band for the first time in several years."*

At the same time, expectations of marching bands were changing across the nation.  Football bands were expected to put on creative and flashy routines at halftimes.  There was little room for a military band's familiar block marching and tired parade songs.  "As football became more complicated, so did marching routines.  Gone were the days of parading onto the field, playing several tunes, and marching off (3)," explains a 1970s marching band introduction book.  A Daily Nebraska editorial written in 1935 urges similar steps in the band's evolution.

But the presence of women and showmanship were not what the military department was interested in for the R.O.T.C. band.  These provided further evidence of the growing differences between the military and the band, differences that would be widened even more when the band continued to be a financial drain upon the military.


* University of Nebraska, University Archives and Special Collections, Cornhusker Marching Band Collection, Box 13, Band History 1944-1970 Info Sheets