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NEWS | July 3, 2024

Tennessee National Guard Band Performs in Bulgaria

By Capt. Kealy Moriarty, Tennessee National Guard Public Affairs Office

SOFIA, Bulgaria – Tennessee Army National Guardsmen assigned to the 129th Army Band partnered with former members of the 572nd Air National Guard Band to celebrate U.S. Independence Day at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia July 2.

This performance marked a historic cultural exchange, as it was the first time this ensemble of Soldiers and Airmen participated in this U.S. European Command-coordinated celebration. The Tennessee National Guard band is one of 16 U.S. military bands participating in Independence Day celebrations across 14 countries.

“We are honored to be in Bulgaria celebrating our nation’s independence,” said Staff Sgt. Rob Dugan, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the joint ensemble. “Music has a unique ability to bring people together, and today’s performance is a testament to the strong relationship between Tennessee and Bulgaria.”

Distinguished visitors attending the performance included U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten, Bulgarian Chief of Defense Admiral Emil Eftimov, Maj. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee National Guard adjutant general; and Maj. Gen. Jimmie Cole, deputy adjutant general.

“This event underscores the deep connections between our nations and the shared values we hold dear,” Ross said. “The power of music to unite people from different backgrounds, overcoming cultural barriers, is truly remarkable, and today’s performance is a perfect example of that.”

As partners in the National Guard State Partnership Program, Tennessee and Bulgaria frequently participate in bilateral training and engagements. 

“The State Partnership Program has been instrumental in enabling events like this, allowing us to strengthen our transatlantic bonds and build lasting relationships through cultural and military exchanges,” said Maj. Myyah Lockhart, Tennessee National Guard’s State Partnership Program director.

Between practices leading up to the celebration, ensemble members experienced traditional Bulgarian culture while exploring Sofia.

“For a lot of us, this was the first time flying out abroad,” said Spc. Lauren Bracamontes, a French Horn player in the joint ensemble. “Several of us did a walking tour in Sofia where we learned a great deal about the city’s rich history and the pride they have in their culture.”

They also had time to engage with their Bulgarian counterparts.

“While here, we were able to discuss future engagement possibilities with the Bulgarian National Ceremonial Guard,” said Staff Sgt. William Burdick, a former member of the 572nd Air National Guard. “This celebration has opened doors to hopefully collaborate on combined performances in the future.”



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