Aaron Lovely: Sousaphone Soldier

By Dennis Graham on July 2, 2018

When Aaron Lovely (B.Mus. ’92) won the audition to serve as tuba player in The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own," he had no idea the journey he was about to embark on.

In 2001, he arrived in Washington, D.C., where he'd be permanently stationed to serve in this role, just prior to the events of 9-11. When the attack on the Pentagon happened, he served with his unit in support of the search and recovery efforts, something he never expected to be part of in his first year.

Since settling into his role as tuba player in the U.S. Army's premier musical organization, he's taken part in ceremonies and performances of national and international significance, including full honor funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery. He's also marched in the state funeral ceremonies for former Presidents Reagan and Ford and in three presidential inauguration parades: one for President George W. Bush and two for President Barack Obama.

In 2007, he was appointed to the additional position of assistant drum major, which helped to season his experience to the standards and protocol of military ceremonies. This eventually led to travel opportunities around the U.S. as a subject matter expert, training other joint service military organizations on proper protocol for events. This training role led to his current appointment as senior enlisted national events planner, Joint Force Headquarters–National Capital Region.

As part of this role, one of Lovely's first assignments was overseeing the planning and coordination of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration Day.

"It's been an amazing opportunity," he says, explaining that a large part of his role includes providing operational guidance leading up to and during the event. "I get to help connect the dots. I make sure everyone works together to ensure everything happens as it's supposed to."

The military's involvement in the presidential inauguration dates back to President George Washington in celebration of the peaceful transition of power. Using history as their guide, the military crafts templates and set protocols for the event, and the planning begins years before the actual inauguration—well before a president is ever elected.

Lovely's favorite memory of inauguration is standing in the control room behind the swearing in ceremony, and after three days of no sleep leading up to the event, seeing his family seated on the platform behind the podium. "It was then, in the bustle behind the scenes," he says, "that I forced myself to pause and reflect. I could see everything happening right in front of and all around me, and say, 'Wow, I'm here.'"

About Aaron

Master Sergeant Aaron Lovely (B.Mus. ’92) has a Bachelor of Music in Performance from CU and a Master of Music Performance in Tuba from Indiana University School of Music. Early in his career, he was a band director while also playing tuba and serving as conductor in the Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale in West Texas. Today he serves as tuba player in The United States Army Band "Pershing's Own" and is assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters–National Capital Region as senior enlisted national events planner. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Megan and two sons: Graham and Keaton.