Five words — “once in a lifetime opportunity” — best describe the Longhorn Alumni Band’s upcoming trip to France to march in the 75th D-Day Memorial Parade, said LHAB president-elect Geof Sloan.
“We are elated and thrilled to participate in such a historic event,” Sloan said. “There’s only one 75th anniversary of D-Day, and we are honored to perform and represent the University of Texas.”
Next June, 515 travelers — nearly 300 of whom are alumni musicians — will head to Normandy to commemorate the D-Day landings and the liberation of France during World War II. Spots have also been set aside for current students in the Longhorn Band to attend if they’re interested, Sloan said.
“We’ve got alumni musicians covering every decade since the 1930s signed up to go,” Sloan said. “Between the alumni, current students and guest travelers, there’s quite a large contingent of people representing our program on this trip.”
Historic Programs, the company organizing the parade, invited the band to be the host ensemble for the parade last year. Between designing and ordering commemorative uniforms, making travel arrangements for participants and instruments alike and organizing a rehearsal schedule, Sloan said planning for the trip is in full swing.
“It’s a very logistical operation,” Sloan said. “Right now we’re putting together a standard uniform to wear during the parade and ceremonies which is true to the iconic Longhorn Band style, but also recognizes the U.S. and the Allied countries.”
LHB member Michaela Lyons said she looks forward to performing alongside everyone in attendance — peers and alumni alike.
“I love to travel, so I’m excited about that,” English junior Lyons said. “But it’s also such an honor to be able to participate at all, especially on the 75th anniversary. D-Day is such an important date (for) so many countries, so I think it’ll be amazing to see people from all over in one place to commemorate what this day means to them while remembering those lost.”
The trip will also be an important educational experience, LHB member Jake Wohleb said.
“All I’ve learned about WWII is from history classes, so I can’t wait to experience this in real life rather than just reading about it in a textbook,” music composition junior Wohleb said. “Not a lot of people get to say that they’ve done something like this, so it’s going to be a really special performance that I’ll never forget.”