The Walker School’s award-winning Concert Band proudly represented the state of Georgia at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Honolulu on December 7.
“This is a young band, made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores,” said Band Director and Fine Arts Department Chair Todd Motter. “They sounded great! I’m really proud of them.”
The Walker School’s Concert Band has played major venues across the country in recent years including The Grand Ole Opry, Downtown Disney, in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Carnegie Hall, but students have never traveled as far as Hawaii, and they have not marched in a parade since 2016. The band was selected for the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade based on past performances at previous competitions and festivals.
“Before this year, the furthest we had been was New York City,” Motter said. “We used to march in a few local parades years ago but nothing of this magnitude or with the whole band together.”
The ensemble, led by Drum Major Ben Merrett (Class of 2024), began practicing their marching just three weeks before the parade, where they performed a mixture of patriotic fare and popular music. For almost all of the 46 students and nine chaperones, it was their first time visiting Hawaii.
Over the four-day trip, students performed “God Bless America” with the Pearl Harbor Massed Band during the parade’s opening ceremonies and marched in the parade commemorating the anniversary of World War II. They also performed a tribute performance at the USS Missouri, visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and toured the Dole Plantation and Polynesian Cultural Center.
Prior to the trip, students learned about the events that led to the Pearl Harbor attack and the attack itself.
“The fact that we got to perform on the USS Missouri, where the surrender was signed to end World War II, and commemorate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on the USS Arizona – that was a very sobering experience for me, personally,” Motter said.
The theme of the annual Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade is, “Remembering our past while celebrating that once bitter enemies can become friends and allies,” and its purpose is to honor and pay respect to survivors of Pearl Harbor, as well as veterans, active duty military and their families. The parade takes place each year on December 7, the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack and National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
“This was not just about the music but the history,” Motter said. “It was an incredible experience.”