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Washington DC Cherry Blossom Festival- Joint Service Drill Exhibition

Through poor planning, this video was posted on January 9, 2014, indicating the Festival had already happened- or at least that the 2014 Joint Service Drill Exhibition (JSDE) had happened.

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Have no fear! According to the National Cherry Blossom Festival website, the festival dates for 2014 are Thursday, March 20 through Sunday, April 13. “Great!” you say, “But when is the JSDE?” I don’t know. I sent an information request for the JSDE14 to the Old Guard public Affairs and no reply as of yet, but we just finished Christmas and New Year, so let’s wait for everyone to get settled into their offices again and catch up on email and work and see what happens!

HistoryThe Marine Corps won the first competition years ago when it was held inside a shopping center (if I’m not mistaken). You can see brief videos of that on YouTube. There was a long hiatus and the competition started back up, this time in front of the Jefferson Memorial. The JSDE is now held at the Lincoln Memorial.

Drill team training and motivation
Drill team training and motivation

Exhibition? What happened to the Competition?
Wasn’t it called the Joint Service Drill Competition? It was. The last JSDC, which I judged, was in 2011 and the Air Force was the winner- by a hair. Why the change? Fairness. The Marine Corps and Army have had their separate drill teams in one platoon and the members of those platoons have had their specific job of perfecting the routine. The Air Force eventually created a flight that does the same thing. I’m not completely informed as to the Navy’s team, but they probably have a platoon that is only for drill. That leaves the Coast Guard. They will never be able to win- that is not a statement that should in any way be associated with the CG’s team being poor. It is not. I am thrilled to watch all of the team’s performances every year ad love to watch the Coast Guard’s team. Why won’t they win? They are the smallest honor guard and are unable to have honor guard members totally dedicated to the drill team. All of the Coast Guard honor guard members must master every element of the honor guard: Colors, Pall Bearers and Firing Party. They all can switch around as needed so most of their time is spent practicing all of their duty related tasks, drill team is extra. Those who are on the drill team put in extra hours- and do a great job, mind you- but the routine must be kept relatively simple. The other teams that have dedicated honor guard members can create complex routines that “wow” the crowd and while the Coast Guard drill team still “wows” crowds with their performances, their routine, when viewed through a judges lens of Overall Effect, Composition Analysis, Equipment and Movement is unable- on purpose- to be as complex and still have the excellent execution that we see in the other service honor guard teams.

So, instead of handing the trophy back and forth between the Air Force and the Army, with the Marines getting in there every few years, we can go and watch and appreciate all of the performances since, in reality, they are winners just because they get up every morning, put on a perfect uniform, honor our country’s war dead and heads of state and then go off to practice drill.

Even though there is no official competition, Click to download and then print out your very own free copy of DrillMaster’s Score-at-Home sheet for the Joint Service Drill Exhibition. With it you can rate each team and see who you think had the most effective performance. There are 2 Score-at-Home sheets per 8.5″ x 11′ piece of paper.

UPDATE for 2014!
Straight from The Old Guard Public Affairs:

No official order has been published but historically speaking the JSDE is the same day as the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

This year the parade is scheduled for 12 April 2014.

While this information is for 2014, we can use it for the years to come. Check when the parade is scheduled and, most likely, that is the day of the exhibition- that’s right, the drill teams march the parade and then go to the exhibition!

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