FORT MILL — The Nation Ford High School band’s recent trip to Pearl Harbor in Honolulu wasn’t just an exotic vacation.
The defending S.C. state champion band performed in honor of military veterans who served at the time of the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack by Japan on the U.S. naval base. Band members had the opportunity to meet some of the survivors and families who had lost loved ones in the attack that ushered the U.S. into World War II. The close-up history lesson made an impression on students.
“I got to meet a survivor, a witness,” said junior Kayla Barone. “It was fascinating to hear about their experiences from the day that will ‘forever live in infamy.’ ”
Band members and staff alike said performing at the site was a memorable experience.
“My favorite memory was seeing our own students at Nation Ford performing in front of an audience with the backdrop of the memorial right behind them, and the Pearl Harbor itself,” Assistant Band Director Ray Linkous said. “You could see everything, and it was just a very moving experience.”
Among the sites that made a strong imprecision was the USS Arizona Memorial, built on top of the hull of the battleship sunk in the attack. The remains of many of the 1,177 crewmen killed in the raid are entombed in the ship.
Students said they felt moved by the purposeful silence observed out of respect for the dead crewmen and the fact that many of them are from families with ties to the military, including those on active duty.
The band members took part in a ceremony in which they threw flowers into the water over the historical graveyard, which is still oozing with oil leaking from the Arizona. The “black tears,” as officials refer to them, bubbled to the surface as hundreds of leis touched the water.
The Nation Ford musicians learned they had something in common with some of the soldiers whocamped at a Pearl Harbor base when the attack occurred: the soldiers had performed in a band competition the night before and were rewarded with being allowed to sleep in the next morning.
After hearing that, some band members said it made performing at Pearl Harbor even more special.
Kailey Fatigante is a member of the Nation Ford band and performed at Pearl Harbor in April. She plans to study journalism.