Ripon High’s 32-member marching band has returned from Washington, D.C., after performing at various war memorials in the nation’s capital on Veterans’ Day.
“It was great . . . to come together with the veterans of World War II for their 75th anniversary,” noted Ripon High drum major Haley Meece.
Haley, a junior at RHS, along with drum majors from Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Alabama presented 75 WWII vets with medals for their service at their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery after concluding their patriotic songs at the other nearby memorials. With them were Ripon High Music Director Geoffrey Felver and Ripon Elementary Schools music teacher Anna Perkins.
“The students I took were not the students I brought back,” Felver said. “They grew so much as people. They understand and appreciate things that most high schoolers have never grasped. The discussions we had today in class were different levels of discussion – it’s awesome.”
“I hope we all are able to have this experience again,” Haley said after she and band members were able to interact with students from the four other states playing at the memorials. She said she hopes to attend either UCLA or UC Santa Cruz and major in film-making or creative writing.
Stephen Meece, Haley’s dad and a sergeant with the Ripon Police Department and a volunteer with the parents’ group said, “As a vet myself they made me proud to see them experience all the memorials in Washington was great. They are all really good kids, awesome kids.”
The band arrived in the Washington, D.C., area on Thursday evening aboard a Delta Air Lines flight. They went to a crab cake dinner in Baltimore, then headed for their hotel in Alexandria, Virginia.
They first played patriotic renditions Friday in between the Korean War Memorial with its statues of foot soldiers and the Vietnam Memorial Wall in front of the Reflections Pond with a backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial while facing the Washington Monument.
On Saturday they played at the Air Force memorial overlooking the Pentagon with a medley of the Glen Miller tunes and John Philip Souza Marches concluding with God Bless America. Also, earlier on Friday, they toured the Library of Congress and the Capitol Building.
Sunday evening band members and their escorts went to Arlington National Cemetery and visited President John Kennedy’s grave and saw the Eternal Flame. They also got to see the final resting places of Thurgood Marshall and Audie Murphy among others before heading back to Ripon.
Meece said he also got to visit the grave of his crew chief on a UH-1N helicopter aboard the USS Essex who had been lost at sea in a crash.
Nineteen parents went along on the trip with six of them acting as chaperones.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com.