After almost a year of fundraising, organizing, uniform fittings, and thousands of marching strides, the Scotland County Band departed for Washington D.C. May 25th.
At 4 p.m. the instruments, uniforms, and luggage were all loaded, good-byes were said, and the wheels started turning as the Marching Tigers departed Memphis, Missouri en route to D.C. The band was met by many well-wishers as they rode out of town including a “band” of hospital staff.
“It was tempting to stop and pick one or two up for the trip,” said director Nathaniel Orr.
Soon the excitement of the departure wore off as the 16-hour bus ride commenced and the band traveled through seven states.
Upon arrival in the US capital city, the band had lunch at the Capitol building, followed by a tour of the legislative building and views of the beautiful rotunda.
“Our first evening in the area was spent at the Marine’s Barracks where the Drum & Bugle Corp, Silent Drill Platoon, and the President’s own Marine Corp Band marched and performed,” said Orr. “It was quite a surprise when the Marine Core Band began to play the Marching Tiger’s parade selection, ‘Colonel Bogey March’.”
Everyone was glad to finally call it a day and check into the hotel after 10:30 p.m.
“We had some long, tiring days, however, they were filled with many laughs, lots of learning, and making memories that will be treasured for a lifetime,” said Orr.
The group toured the Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, MLK, Air Force, Marine, Koran War, Vietnam, and WWII Memorial as well as Ford’s Theater, Arlington National Cemetery, Mt. Vernon, the National Archives, and the many Smithsonian’s.
The band also enjoyed many great meals at King Street Blues, the Blackfinn, and the Fish Market.
Finally the day of the Memorial Day Parade arrived. The band got all decked out in their uniforms, including brand new hats and plumes, while the Color Guard donned the dresses made by Mary Ann Kirkpatrick, each representing a different branch of the armed forces.
A box lunch was eaten, then began the long wait, until time for entry #127. Who knew they put the Missouri Schools at the end of the parade?
Finally, it was time to march down Constitution Avenue. The Scotland County Marching Tigers turned the corner and began to play.
“It was one of those experiences that you have worked so hard to accomplish and waited for so long, that it was surreal when it came to pass,” said Orr. “Of course, the band did the community and school proud -performing exceptionally well, they caused many spectators to take notice and show their appreciation and admiration. How quickly the moments passed. But what a memorable, wonderful experience.”
Along with the sightseeing and picture taking, the Marching Tigers met two great people. The band’s tour guide, aka, Tour Guide Barbie (actually Barabra), made the trip run seamlessly. She was always ready to answer any question about a statue or building that the students, or director, might have.
The second, was the bus driver, Terry.
“He could drive a bus around the square backwards during Antique Fair,” said Orr. “He was exceptional and second to none.”
“As the director, I want to send a huge, heartfelt thank you to every member of the community,” said Orr. “Whether your organization made a donation, you personally donated, or purchased a walking taco, your contribution was appreciated by every member of the ensemble. Although not every one of our supporters was able to get on the bus and go to D.C., when the band marched down Constitution Avenue, you were each present in spirit and because of your encouragement and support the entire school and community was part of that memorable day.
“We hope that by viewing the photos and keeping track of what we were seeing and doing each day that it felt like you were part of the whole trip.
“I was honored to take part in this experience, but more importantly, I was honored by the student’s respect for the Memorial Day weekend as well as the tribute given when viewing the Memorials along the National Mall. The students knew that they were there to honor young men and women, many not much older than they, that made the ultimate sacrifice by showing that ‘greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ As we remembered the price those soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and coast guardsmen made, it makes marching a mile in a hot uniform seem not too bad. In fact, it was a great honor.”