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"This whole thing was really top secret in a sense that we weren't allowed to talk about it to anyone," said Staff Sgt. James Hague. "I wasn't allowed to talk about this big Spielberg film that was coming out."
Hague, drum major, United States Army Fife and Drum Corps [FDC], 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), explained his recent experience in the new Steven Spielberg movie, "Lincoln", which debut this weekend.
Members of The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps wear uniforms and white wigs modeled after musicians of Gen. George Washington's Continental Army. They play on 10-hole fifes, handmade rope-tensioned drums and single-valve bugles to replicate the sounds of that period. During the movie, Hague said fitting into the part of an 1865 Marine Band piccolo player was fairly easy due to his experience as a FDC fifer.
"They're not the same instrument, but they are related. The fife has no keys on it but the piccolo does," said Hague, who joined FDC in 2006. "Also, being that the role was in a military band, I was able to fit right in."
Hague said obtaining the exact instrument for the movie and getting it into playing shape was rather challenging.
"I purchased the instrument two weeks before I had to go and play it," said Hague. "It was actually built between 1850 and 1870 and the pads on it were dry-rotted when I got it. They fell off two days before I had to go film so they had to be replaced."
Hague said he was not only able to ease into his role because of his musical experiences but his family upbringing helped as well.
"The civil war era was very familiar to me because my whole family are war re-enactors," said Hague. "I've been a war re-enactor since I was four years old."
Hague laughed at what he calls an awkward family tradition, but said his family is proud to see it translate to the big screen.
However, Hague explained he is the only member of his family who uses music re-enactments to tell history.
" I think it's important for people to understand what musicians did back in those wars, what their roles were, and how they helped the Army with morale and music on the march," said Hague.
Hague said music also brings the sound of the Nation alive.
"It's a rallying point in many ways," said Hague. "People who are deployed to all parts of the world hear a song like Yankee Doodle and Battle Hymn of the Republic and are brought back to America because of that patriotic sound."
Through this film, Hague hopes audiences will not only grasp the musical importance to the Civil War era, but also the tumultuous situations people faced.
"The film is definitely a history lesson," said Hague. "It will enlighten the American public to the political struggle of the time."