Washington, D.C. (WPRI) — A Massachusetts native, who plays with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, paid tribute to President George H.W. Bush with song during his funeral Wednesday.
Dartmouth High School graduate Master Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Harding, a solo cornet with the band, participated in Bush’s State Funeral at the Washington National Cathedral. Harding, who joined the Marine Band in 1998 and became the solo cornet in 2000, described the experience as “humbling.”
“It’s always a privilege to be a part of such a historical event,” Harding explained. “Being witness to a celebration of his life was a very humbling experience.”
Harding, who was born and raised in Dartmouth, began his musical instruction when he was 9 years old.
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“I have fond memories up there [in New England],” he said. “I’m still a livelong Red Sox and Patriots fan.”
Harding said with the U.S. Marine Band, preparing for sudden performances like this one can be intense.
“When it happens, everybody is all hands on deck. Rehearsals come in quick succession and everything sort of happens really quickly,” Harding explained.
This was not Harding’s first performance at a State Funeral. He also performed during former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford’s funerals.
To learn more about Harding and the Marine Band, click here.