Glacier High School band has been nominated by U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., to march in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., through the American Veterans Center and Music Celebrations International.
This year’s parade commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day — the invasion of Western Europe on June 6, 1944, when Allied forces landed on the beach of Normandy, France, and began the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany control during World War II.
Ninety-two students will represent Glacier and Montana.
“I was pleased to nominate the Glacier High School band to march in the Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C. As a former trumpet player myself, I’m happy to support this group of young, dedicated students! Go Wolfpack!” Daines said in an email to the Daily Inter Lake.
Glacier will be among musical ensembles from each branch of the military, veterans groups, military and specialty units, celebrity musical performers and guests. The approximately 1-mile parade route begins by the National Mall on Constitution Avenue, continuing from Seventh to 17th streets northwest, ending near the World War II Memorial.
The parade will be streamed live online at www.americanveteranscenter.org and military.com in addition to being televised on select stations. Check www.americanveteranscenter.org for updated information. The parade is also scheduled to be broadcast to U.S. troops on the American Forces Network.
This is the first time the band has flown out of state to perform, which is quite a production. The marching band will be in D.C. from May 28 to 30. The students fly out from Montana in two groups in Kalispell and Missoula and meet up in Washington, D.C. As of now, Glacier Band Director David Barr plans to have the instruments driven separately to save money.
It’s exciting for the students, many of whom have not been to the nation’s capital, and are looking forward to seeing as many monuments and museums as possible. While the itinerary will be firmed up closer to the departure date, Barr said they plan to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.
“We’ll definitely visit the Lincoln Monument because it is right there with the Vietnam and Korean monuments, so there is quite a bit to see in that one spot,” Barr said.
Several student musicians spoke to the honor of being nominated by Daines to represent Montana in memorializing those who died while serving in the military. One of those students was junior Jocelyn Kuhl, who plays the snare drum.
“I am so honored that Glacier got chosen to march in honor of veterans in the Memorial Day Parade,” Kuhl said. “It’s a big deal that they served our country and risked everything, and playing in the parade feels like a way of honoring all of them and thanking them for what they have served for. It’s definitely something that we will remember for the rest of our lives because it’s such an honor to be chosen for something that significant.”
Trumpet player junior Luke Heupel echoed a similar sentiment: “This means a lot to me, especially when you consider how many people have fought for our country and how many died for our country. Marching in this parade gives me the chance to thank and honor them.”
For senior Annika Birney, who plays the piccolo, marching in the parade has personal significance.
“My father is a veteran, and I want to march with him in mind,” Birney said.
The idea of marching in D.C. was a lot to take in for some students, such as junior Lanee Vitt, who plays the tenor saxophone.
“Being able to even march at the nation’s capital on Memorial Day is unreal. For me it’s more of an honor than anything. It is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am truly honored to be a part of it,” Vitt said.
Other students are excited to represent Montana, including senior Sarina Smith, who plays the trombone, and junior Trevin Inabnit, who plays the clarinet.
“I’m looking forward to representing Montana and showcasing our marching for a larger crowd,” Smith said. “We have a relatively short marching season so it will be exciting to play in the spring and show what Kalispell, Montana, has to offer.”
Inabnit added, “I’m looking forward to showing the pride of our school to the nation and showing that Glacier and its community is a good representation of America’s high schools.”
For sophomore Jack Bruce, who plays tenor saxophone, the performance will be an opportunity to give back.
“It makes me feel so proud that I can do something for our veterans,” Bruce said.
It may be many months away, but Barr is ready to get students out on the field practicing as soon as the snow melts in the spring. In the meantime, the marching band will be fundraising to cover transportation, accommodations and other fees. Barr said he has already received donations from Glacier Bank and Whitefish Credit Union with approximately $70,000 left to raise by April.
People wishing to donate may call the school at 758-8600 or email Barr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or email@example.com.