Illinois Army National Guard Band to make Elmhurst Memorial Day Parade debut
The 144th Army Band representing the Illinois Army National Guard will make its City of Elmhurst debut marching in Elmhurst's 104th annual Memorial Day Parade through downtown on Monday, May 30, stepping off at 9:30 a.m.
Under the direction of Drum Major Sergeant Leslie Castro, the band is comprised of 38 citizen-soldiers from across Illinois, many of whom are students, music teachers or associated with the music industry. Sgt. Castro is a junior at Illinois State University in Normal studying in music education.
The band's mission is to provide musical entertainment for the morale of soldiers and support of the local communities when possible.
Aside from the marching band, musical units include a ceremonial band, concert band, Dixieland band, 16-piece jazz band, jazz quintet, woodwind quintet and a variety of other small musical groups.
Since 2018, the band has been stationed out of the Calumet Armory (Donnelly Building) in Chicago's South Loop. Constructed in 1993, the Donnelly Building houses six Army units.
Prior to that, the band operated out of Camp Lincoln's North Armory in Springfield dating back to the 1980s.
The band was attached to the Joint Force Headquarters from 1968 through 2008, when it was reassigned to the new 65th Troop Command Brigade, the second largest major command in the Illinois Army National Guard.
The band's roots can be traced back to the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band, which was formed in 1861 during the American Civil War and mustered out in 1862. The 17-member unit was led by Lexington residents Augustus Woodward and C.S. Elder.
While the Army Act of 1869 abolished regimental bands due to limited funding, regimental commanders often maintained their bands. In 1894, a War Department general order authorized one sergeant and 20 privates per band, along with a chief musician or leader. By 1899, the Army had 41 bands and the number of musicians increased to 28 per band.
In 1916, the band became known as the 33rd Division Band attached to the newly formed 33rd Division.