Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chimacum High School Band Pearl Harbor Day Parade Trip

CHIMACUM — After months of preparation and fundraising, the Chimacum High School Marching Band leaves today for Honolulu, where it will march in a parade commemorating the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the U.S. into World War II. 

“It's been really hard work, but it is now paying off,” said freshman David Kraut, 14. 

“We are going to Hawaii.”

Said Sophomore Laura Montgomery, 15: “We have been preparing for this trip for so long.

“It won't hit us until we get there and see all the veterans and people who have fought for our country.”

The school is the only one in the state sending a band to Sunday's parade.

The 59 students in the band will board the buses to the airport at about 2 p.m. today at the high school at 91 West Valley Road. 

The trip is part performance and part education, giving the band a larger stage on which to perform while providing them insight into military and cultural history. 

Band Director Garth Gourley underscored this in class Monday. 

“I hope you can use your cellphones for more than selfies,” he said. 

“You should take pictures everywhere you go and learn something about what you see and come back prepared to share exactly what you've learned,” Gourley said.

“It's fortuitous to go on this trip right after a holiday where we give thanks because we have a lot to be thankful for.”

The Pearl Harbor parade is an annual commemoration of the anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack that killed 2,335 U.S. servicemen and wounded another 1,143. Sixty-eight civilians were also killed and 35 wounded.

Gourley, reminding the students they will have only about 15 minutes of performance time, asked them to act like professional musicians and pay close attention to the person in front of them. 

“I'm really excited for the kids to play with the Marine Band and to see Pearl Harbor,” said Whitney Meissner, the school principal. 

“It is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

“And when they come back, I can't wait to hear their stories,” she added.

Since accepting the invitation in May, the school has conducted pie sales, held fundraisers and developed a youth labor program where band members performed odd jobs and contributed their wages to the cause, raising more than the $70,000 needed to send the band on the trip.

On Monday, Meissner received a $1,000 check from Suzanne Coleman, a former Chimacum Elementary School principal now living in Florida, who wanted to make a donation. 

At the Pearl Harbor Day parade, the band will play four selections: “Sousa!,” “America the Beautiful,” “Requiem for a Soldier” and “God Bless America,” which it will perform in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific Band.

Meissner said she sat in on Monday's final rehearsal but had to leave because she started crying.

“There is something about this music when it's played well and in the context of something really important,” she said. 

“It's deeply touching and emotional.”


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

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