NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University Director of Bands Dr. Jeffrey C. Mathews will be among those attending a White House ceremony Thursday at 6 p.m. honoring the nation’s military bands.
President Donald J. Trump will award The National Medal of Arts, our nation’s highest award to artists, to “The Musicians of the US Military.” Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley will accept the honor on behalf of all of the U.S. military band musicians. The medal will also be awarded to musician Alison Krauss, philanthropist Sharon Percy Rockefeller and actor Jon Voight.
Mathews, who holds the rank of colonel in the Air National Guard, will be at the ceremony representing the military musicians of the National Guard Bureau. This includes members of both Army and Air National Guard Bands. Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be in attendance along with other commanders of military service bands including The United States Army Band, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, The United States Navy Band, The United States Air Force Band and The United States Coast Guard Band.
“I am both humbled and honored to represent the musicians of the National Guard at this ceremony to award them the National Medal of the Arts, our nation’s highest award for artists,” said Mathews. “They are dedicated professionals who work diligently to tell the National Guard and U.S. military stories to the public. They honor our veterans, inspire patriotism and connect with the public through their performances across the country and around the globe. To receive an award of this magnitude is rare in a military career, to receive it from the President makes it even more meaningful.”
In awarding the National Medal of the Arts, the citation stated that military bands “provide an essential element in maintaining troop morale and esprit de corps at home and abroad, to include those deployed on the front lines protecting freedom around the globe. Additionally, they inspire patriotism and encourage young men and women to serve in all branches of the military.”
The citation further stated “Using music to bridge language, cultural, societal and socio-economic differences, military bands play a key role in increasing public understanding of the importance of military power, the mission, policies, and programs of the Department of Defense, and the bravery, sacrifice and dedication of our service members.”
Mathews serves as Chief, Air National Guard Bands for the National Guard Bureau. He is the chief policy maker and advisor to all Air National Guard bands.
Mathews has served in the National Guard for 34 years. He was the commander and conductor of the Air National Guard Band of the Gulf Coast from 1997 to 2011. He received his commission on July 2, 1998, from the Academy of Military Science in Knoxville, Tennessee. Prior to joining the Texas Air National Guard he served ten years with the 156th Army Band of the Louisiana National Guard and two years with the 132nd Army Band of the Wisconsin National Guard. In 2007, he deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa with members of the Air National Guard Band of the Gulf Coast. Most recently, he was activated for a six-month assignment where he served as the Commander of the United States Air Force Band of the West.
At Northwestern State, Mathews leads a band program of over 360 students. He conducts the Wind Symphony and Honors Chamber Winds and teaches conducting to both graduate and undergraduate students. His professional memberships include Louisiana Music Educators Association, World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensemble and the College Band Directors National Association.