tv West Point Holiday Special FOX News December 24, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
that is it for us. we want to give a special salute to our troops. many of them are deployed and away from their families. thank you for your service and sacrifice. we hope all of you have a very merry christmas. ♪ welcome to west point holiday. i'm on the majestic grounds of the united states military academy at west point new york. tonight we will explore the rich history of west point, get a glimpse of the living traditions of the united states military and most of all get to enjoy the music of the army's oldest band. ♪ the west point band is one of america's finest military musical organizations. throughout the next hour, we're going to hear them on the field, in the halls and on stage as they perform for the public. ♪
because it wouldn't be the holidays around here without the annual west point holiday concert in eisenhower hall. named for the class of 1915 graduate eisenhower, it's one of the largest theaters in america designed to hold the entire corps of cadets. let's go inside and catch the opening number of a west point holiday. ♪ ♪ ♪
♪ ♪ [ applause ] >> we will be bringing you more of the west point holiday concert over the next hour from right here at america's oldest military post and one of our country's most fabled universities. each year, thousands of cadets graduate from the here and become officers in the united states army. the academy sits on a plateau overlooking the hudson river. it's location chosen in 1778 is
no accident. >> george washington considered west point the key to the continent. the continental army could control west point, they could control the hudson river. >> general washington chose this location to stop the british advancement. with legislation signed by thomas jefferson in 1802, the college was established devoted to the arts and sciences of warfare. >> they put it here because this was where the ma juro majority army was. jefferson, even though he didn't want a large standing army, he wanted school trained engineers to be able to survey the country and to help expand. >> now more than 200 years later, today's cadets are well aware of the impressive legacy placed on their shoulders. >> it's a privilege and honer to be here. we're going to be second lieutenants in the army. in charge of 30, 40 soldiers. we don't take that
responsibility lightly. being a cadet here at west point, you reinforce values. honor country. do our best to live those values every day. >> being here, being with the brightest and smartest minds of the u.s. is amazing. i mean, i'm fully exposed to people who i honor, who i trust and who i will trust with my life throughout my four years here and throughout my time in the office. >> our mission at west point is to educate, train and aspire leaders of character. we develop cadets intellectually, militarily, physically. it really develops on the character. you can be competent intellectually or fizz iphysica but if you fail on character, you fail on leadership. >> as long as there have been soldiers at west point, there has been a band. >> music begins with the very first soldiers who were placed here during the revolution.
>> by the time you get to the american revolution, field music and bands associated with the military were fairly common place. >> military drums were the primary form of communication from the american revolution to the civil war. >> armies on both sides employed not only field music but larger bands. >> the bugle achieved an increasingly to role for the ability of its bold, brilliant sound to be heard on the battlefield. >> to help moral, to help motivate soldiers and to provide instructions that could be heard over the din of battle. there used to be many music halls throughout the day to tell soldiers to do all sorts of things. call to quarters, chow call, all different musical pieces kept them on task. >> each day at west point still begins the same way at 0630.
with the blast of a cannon in the pre-dawn dark sgl. >> the honor guard will prepare to raise the flag and there will be a cannon shot and then one of the buglers will perform "rev "revely." >> today's field musicians are not your grandfather's drummers and buglers. when we come back, we will take you back inside to show you what a field music christmas looks like. before we take a quick break, here is the west point cadet glee club performing. ♪
welcome back to west point holiday. we're at the united states military academy at west point. we are going to bring you some of the amazing music of the west point band. throughout history, cadets here have matched to the beat of the oldest unit, the field music group. >> it was very important to militaries during the time of the american revolution and even well beyond. bugles and drums to give out orders that the soldiers could hear over long distances.
our field music group continues to provide the same support to the cadets as they always have done. they play the same music. they play the same instruments. >> the field musicians keep the cadets on the precise schedule that makes up life here at west point. >> every day, three times a day, the entire corps of cadet forms to the music as they have done since the beginning of the academy. >> the whole corps has formation at the same time. all the regiments form up in their respective areas. >> at 12:05, the entire corps will form up. >> we take accountability. we report that to our battalion command. >> once the announcements are said, we march in together to the mess hall as one. >> the cadets will march into the mess hall while they are playing. there will be a marching theme for the day. the corps cadets will march into the mess hall, our 4,400 of us and eat at the same time.
we have 15 to 20 minutes behind that. the logistics is incredible how you can do that every day. >> the mess hall staff does an amazing job and gets everything out to our tables where we eat family style. >> in addition to the daily formations, the they provide the soundtrack for the parade. >> the pass and review gives the opportunity for the commanding officer to dismiss the corps cadets and gives the superintendent the opportunity to inspect them as well. we take a very careful look at the companies as they go by. we look for their drill. we look for their appearance, how they carry their rifles, if they're in step, uniforms they are wearing. >> west point is known for its uniforms. a lot of people know cadet gray. the cadet colors are black, gray and gold. those three colors represent the components of gunpowder, charcoal and sulfur. >> the band plays the same melodies that every cadet who
has come through the academy will recognize. it really represents an unbroken tradition that extends back before the academy to the beginning of the army and the nation. >> let's rejoin the west point holiday concert to see the hell cats and the west point cat performing field music christmas classics. ♪ ♪ ♪
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welcome back to west point holiday. december is such a special time here when future army officers look forward to a well deserved break from their studies and their training. >> there's a lot that's on a can a decadet's schedule. there's a lot of demands. when the holidays come, it gives them a reason to celebrate. >> the couple weeks before christmas break or holiday break, everyone seems a bit more cheerful. and there's a little bit more hope in the air. you are going to go home soon. having a huge responsible on our
shoulders every day can wear down on us. but definitely as we approach our break as we approach the holidays, we have a chance to relax. >> family is very important to our cadets. because that's the basis of their upbringing, their mom and dad and family that they come from. >> going home just makes it ten times more worth it. because you learn to appreciate what you have. and being home with family, seeing people that you haven't gotten to see in months is just so wonderful. >> it's also a time to remember those who have gone before them and the thousands of americans celebrating the holidays far from home. >> solders who are deployed are away from family for as long as a year, 15 months. and when it comes time for holidays, it's a tough time for them. they know that their group, their squad, their platoon is their family when they are deployed. it's a time they will always remember where they were that particular christmas. >> across the west point campus,
ho holiday spirit is palpable. >> the mood here changes after thanksgiving. it seepms like overnight it changes. >> there's lights all over, gift wrapping people all over. people have more pep. >> there is one december tradition that everybody looks forward to. ♪ ♪ >> the annual christmas dinner washington hall, with entertainment by west point's bennie haven's band. >> christmas dinner is one of the great traditions for the cadets. i would say that it's the highlight of the year. >> christmas meals at west point are my favorite by far. the fourth class cadets, they decorate the tables. you see anything from christmas trains on the tables to blow-up santa dolls. >> whenever the upper class cadets enter the mess hall, they
are surprised or taken aback by how beautiful and festive everything is. >> we will march into the mess hall and we will have a feast. >> the fourth class cadets and the first class cadets will dance with one another during the dinner, which is very out of ordinary. >> the corps of cadets wills sing the 12 days of christmas before being dismissed. and that's really exciting because everybody is together, everybody is singing. it's festive. it's just a great experience. >> there are six wings to it the mess hall. half of each wing is assigned one of the days. as they start singing it starts at one point and they will sing the first day. and then it moves. >> you just see joy around the mess hall. >> it gets rowdy.
but it's a good time. >> you can hear it growing louder and louder as it approaches your wing. it hits your wing, you sing. it's really a fun tradition, a great experience. >> massive washington hall isn't even the most impressive structure on west point. one of the most awe inspiring college campuses in america, the u.s. military academy was the first institution in the country to adopt the goeorgie i gothic architecture. among the many great structures is the cadet chapel where i am standing right now. it resembles a medieval cattle castle overlook the campus. >> it emphasizes the military aspects.
the tops of the chapel looks like battlements. it's almost the military cathedral. they started construction in 1900. it was dedicated in 1909. >> each stain glass window is a memorial given over time by classes in memory of their fallen classmates. >> beginning with the class of 1802 and then the main display are taken from old and new testament martyrs. >> the middle is the constantly burning candle. >> it's a reminder that we have soldiers deployed in harm's way. as long as we have a soldier deployed, that candle burns. >> the cadet chapel is home to the world's largest church organ. >> it has over 18,000 pipes. even organs outside church buildings, there are few larger than that. it's really an honor for people to play to come here and they ask permission to play here. they can produce simple sounds,
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la guardia. more than 2,000 flights delayed nationwide today. that's on top of 300 cancellations. storms extending from the gulf coast to nosthe northeast are t blame. going wasn't better for those travel big road. snowfall in the northwest shut down highways earlier today. at the vatican today, the pope celebrated christmas mass before thousands of faithful and clergy from around the world. tomorrow tens of thousands more will crowd into saint peter's square to hear the christmas day speech. francis is expected to deliver a message denouncing wars and injustice across the globe. now back to our west point holiday special. ♪
♪ welcome back to the west point holiday special. that's the west point bennie haven band playing "santa is coming to town." of course when santa comes to town here, he does it in a truly west point fashion. not on a sleigh but jumping out of an army helicopter. santa, his trusty elf and the golden knights parachute team decided to deliver the game ball for a west point football game. game day at the united states military academy is a big deal. it starts long before kickoff. >> it's not only the football game. it's the parade, the skydiving team during the game.
>> as the area around the stadium fills with tailgaters, the west point band is there. >> army bands have always provided music to entertain soldiers. here that tradition is carries on by the bennie haven band. they play popular music, the kind of music that our cadets will want to hear. >> the hell cats join in the fun stirring up the already lively crowd. >> home football games on game day are exciting for the west point community. >> the entire corps of cadets will march up together. we are ready to cheer on the army team. >> all football games the cadets will attend. it's a good time. >> at a regular college, you go with your social group or you have a few friends. here you kind of feel really united as a corps of cadets. >> at halftime, the west point band takes the field.
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welcome back to our west point holiday special. we're at the united states military acandemy at west point where cadets spend four years before becoming leaders in america's army. >> first thing you do is you go through a summer that transforms you from civilian to cadet. as a cadet you are an apprentice. you are learning your profession. you are developing the skills and capabilities. >> just making it through fall semester is nothing short of a trium triumph. for the freshman class, it's their first chance to take a breath as they reported right after high school graduation. their official welcome was the start of a rigorous training that will continue throughout their time here. >> this 9/11 generation is unique group. because they all recognize that our nation was attacked. they want to stand in the gap
and do something about t. our motto is duty, honor, country. i would argue they have internalized what it is about before they get here. they want to stand in the gap between the evil that's out there and what our nation stands for. >> an impressive group of young men and women. let's now get back to the music of the west point band. we will rejoin the west point holiday concert as the band performs "sleigh ride." ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> that's all th that's all the time we have tonight. we'd like to thank everyone at west point and especially the west point band for letting us share the holidays with them. from everyone at fox news, have a great holiday and goodnight. welcome to a special hour, "an american journey." >> we're at the southern tip of manhattan on governor's island, once an outpost to protect new york city from attack. we're in the shadow of the statue of liberty and just a stone's throw from ellis island, the gateway to the american dream. this hour we're taking you on a journey that highlights america's proud past through the lens of some modern stories we reported on this year. >> our journey begins just up the h