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For Band, History Resonates

The baton that Foley passed to Colburn was given to Sousa in 1892 and bears his name in gold engraving. Sousa's Tiffany lamp, with a blue and green stained-glass shade decorated with outlines of fireflies, stands in a corner of the director's office. Across the room, a cabinet holds medals Sousa won for skeet shooting and other outdoor activities.

The new band barracks may be named John Philip Sousa Hall.


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Another Sousa portrait overlooks the room where band members often practice, an ever-present reminder of the tradition to which band members belong.

For some, it's not easy to forget. Staff Sgt. Michelle Urzynicok, 32, of Bel Air knew she wanted to join the band ever since she heard it at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, where she attended high school.

She was studying in Germany in the late 1990s, after earning a master's degree, when she heard there was an audition for the band, and she flew to Washington to try out. She got the spot and joined in 2000.

As an E-flat clarinetist, Urzynicok often played "Hail to the Chief" on the White House balcony during the Clinton administration's tenure. She made her father proud this summer when she marched in the Reagan funeral procession, she said.

She loves the music the band plays, loves being a part of history and is proud to perform with top-caliber colleagues.

"Sometimes I still can't believe that I play here," she said.

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