Air Guard's 'Band of the Southwest' sparks patriotism during summer tour

Members of the  531st Air Force Band, Band of the Southwest, Air National Guard, sing patriotic songs to the local community audiences at Bossier Parish Community College, Bossier City, Louisiana, June 25, 2014. The band's summer tour includes nine venues spread out between locations in Arkansas and Louisiana. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Charles Hatton/Released)

Members of the 531st Air Force Band, Band of the Southwest, Air National Guard, sing patriotic songs to the local community audiences at Bossier Parish Community College, Bossier City, Louisiana, June 25, 2014. The band's summer tour includes nine venues spread out between locations in Arkansas and Louisiana. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Charles Hatton/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Patterson, 531st Band commander, Air National Guard, conducts the 531st Air Force Band, Band of the Southwest at Bossier Parish Community College, Bossier City, Louisiana, during their local community venues, June 25, 2014. The band's summer tour includes nine venues spread out between locations in Arkansas and Louisiana. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Charles Hatton/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Patterson, 531st Band commander, Air National Guard, conducts the 531st Air Force Band, Band of the Southwest at Bossier Parish Community College, Bossier City, Louisiana, during their local community venues, June 25, 2014. The band's summer tour includes nine venues spread out between locations in Arkansas and Louisiana. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Charles Hatton/Released)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The Air National Guard Band of the Southwest, historically known as the 531st Air Force Band kicked off their annual summer tour June 25 with a special performance here from their six-person rock band named Airlift. This year the band will perform at nine separate venues to eager audiences, traveling from locations as far as Northern Louisiana and Southern Arkansas, culminating with a July 4th performance at Pops on the River in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Band of the Southwest is affiliated with the Texas Air National Guard but Air Guard policy calls out a multi-state responsibility that stretches from Arizona to Arkansas. During the tour the band serves as the Air National Guard Band of Louisiana and also the Air National Guard Band of Arkansas, said Lt. Col. Eric Patterson, 531st Air Force Band commander. He stated that they're going to those states and telling the Air Guard story as ambassadors through music.

"The mission of the Air National Guard Band Program is to tell the story of the men and women who serve our country," said Patterson. "We do that through a patriotic selection of music".

Patterson said that as musicians we're trying to remind audiences of the volunteer citizen soldier. We're trying to remind the audience that the back bone of the military is the volunteer notion of service.

All members of the band are traditional Guardsmen performing in more than 50
performances annually, spanning the globe. They provide a wide range of musical support for official Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve unit military functions.

"Around the 4th of July is a time for us to remind people, not just how great the country is, but about the foundation of young men and women who volunteered to serve," said Patterson. "Remember those that are making our freedom possible. Every generation faces its own challenges. We remind the audience that America will rise above them every time. The music has a way of empowering people to have an optimistic outlook that we live in an excellent country and we're going to win."