When the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade Committee invited the marching band to perform at the memorial parade, Monroe Township was honored to accept the invitation. We were selected to represent the whole state of New Jersey.
Practices began in late November after the marching season ended. We marched around the high school parking lot and memorized the piece, “Armed Forces on Parade.”
Final preparations for Hawaii were made on December 3 when we started bag checks. It was crucial that none of us forgot any of our instruments or uniforms.
Several hours after bag checks, State Senator Ms. Linda Greenstein, Superintendent Dr. Michael Kozak, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Dori Alvich, and Monroe Township Mayor Mr. Gerald Tamburro spoke to the students at the send-off ceremony.
USS New Jersey Veteran Mr. Ken Kersch also spoke at the sendoff ceremony, describing the USS New Jersey: the second ship of the United States Navy named after our state.
We finally left for Hawaii on December 5, and the 11 hour flight was very boring and uneventful.
We performed a small selection of songs on the USS Missouri, the third ship the US Navy named in honor of the state of Missouri, on the second day of the trip. After our performance, we were given time to explore and learn about the ship.
Buses drove us to the next part of our trip, the USS Arizona Memorial. USS Arizona was a battleship built for the US Navy that unfortunately sunk during the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7, 1941.
Seeing the USS Arizona Memorial in real life was a moving experience for the band members.
“Although we all knew what Pearl Harbor was before going, personally being there made it more real. I was, of course, always aware of it, but for the first time I felt truly moved by this event and [its] memorials . . . The Arizona memorial is so profound. I didn’t know before that the ship was left as it was. It’s a mass grave and being there caused a rush of emotion that I’ve never felt about before when thinking abut the Pearl Harbor event,” junior Ashley Koluda says.
Pearl Harbor’s 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks was the next day. At the opening ceremony to the memorial parade, survivors from the attacks described their first-person account of the events. Alongside many other bands, we all collectively played “God Bless America”.
Shortly after the ceremony, the parade began. Monroe Township Marching Band was one of the last groups in the parade, so we had to wait on the sidewalk and watch the other bands pass by. When we finally got to march, it was well worth the wait. I felt a surge of pride when I remembered that we were representing the entire state of New Jersey. It was a completely unique experience compared to marching at home games and competitions.
Freshman Luke Lattanzi says, “Hawaii was fun and educational because we got to explore the culture origins of the islands before American jurisdiction took hold. We also learned about the great men and women who sacrificed their lives in World War II.”