They dreamed about it for months and on Monday, the dream came true.
46 kids from small-town Loretto, Tennessee marched up Constitution Avenue in Washington, DC as part of the National Memorial Day Parade.
The moment was 6 months in the making.
When Band Director Darrell Boston first got an email out of the blue from the American Veterans Center last Fall, he wasn’t sure it was real.
“I was at home when the email came through. I was sharing it with my wife,” said Boston. “And she said do you think that’s real or a joke and I said I don’t know but I’m going to find out.”
“It was kind of crazy. Director Boston called me immediately and said I gotta read something to you. He read it over the phone. And we both sat there kind of quiet. It was like, is this possible?” said Jay Neidert, President of the Loretto Band Boosters.
What followed was months of intense fund-raising. They needed $60,000 to make the trip, to cover buses and meals and hotel rooms. That’s a lot of fried pies, car washes, pancake suppers, and concerts. Some people thought they couldn’t do it. They were wrong.
The band from Loretto in southern Lawrence County proved they could reach what seemed like an unattainable goal.
They left Loretto early Friday morning and arrived in Washington late that night. They took the weekend to adjust to the time and the setting, and they got to see a few sights, including the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, the Capitol and the Smithsonian.
They left these words on a message board at the Smithsonian: “Always remember, ANYTHING is possible. March to Washington 2019. Loretto High School Band”
On the big day, they lined up with thousands of other parade participants early in the morning.
After a final drum line warm-up and a uniform check by Director Boston, the band was ready.
“This is an impression in your hearts for the rest of your lives,” said Boston. “You will always remember the day you marched in the National Memorial Day Parade. Take it in, have fun, but perform well. It’s going to be awesome. You are awesome.”
On this warm and sunny day in Washington, DC they marched alongside military bands, Veterans groups, other school bands and floats. They represented the state of Tennessee on television and digital live streams across the country and at military bases around the world.
“The parade was awesome. Our kids got such a huge response from the crowd in several places,” said Neidert. “Big time for our small-town band. Such a great experience.”