When Rochelle Township High School music department chair Ron Duval first received an invitation for the Hub Marching Band to participate in the 2018 Parade of Heroes in Washington., D.C., on Nov. 8-13, 2018, Veterans Day Weekend, he was reserved.
“I received an e-mail back in February of this year and didn’t even consider it. Actually, I didn’t even respond,” Duval recalls. “But the more I thought about it I remembered that I have tried to impress to the students the value of the service they provide for Memorial Day, Veterans Day; the service hymns we perform; it’s important they understand that even though they give up their first day of vacation; the seniors have graduated, there is nothing I can do to make it a mandatory participation.”
“There’s a sense of giving back to the families of those veterans to those who are deceased and those currently serving. So, I considered the fact that it is a lot of money, but it’s something the students would truly value in recognizing the anniversary of World War II,” he said.”
So, in early 2017, Duval spoke with then superintendent Jamie Craven about the possibility of taking part in the event.
“I decided in April to talk to Mr. Craven, our superintendent at the time, and get his thoughts,” Duval continued, saying he did and found him enthusiastic about the idea.
Duval then submitted his intent to participate.
“I submitted it and about the end of May, first part of June, and called the retired general who had extended the invitation and told him about our interest. He said he would love to have us and mentioned that ours was the only band up to that time from Illinois that had responded,” Duval said.
At that time things were changing at RTHS; Craven was leaving the district and principal Jason Harper was gearing up to take the superintendent’s position, so Duval wasn’t sure the trip was still an option to pursue.
“Then, we had a change in administration and I thought that maybe this isn’t the best time to pursue an undertaking of this size, so I called the general back and told him I wasn’t so sure about how much time could be committed until I could get board approval. I wasn’t sure when that was going to be but the general said he would save a place for us,” Duval explained.
“Mr. Harper came on board and said that Mr. Craven had mentioned it to him in passing, indicating that nothing had been set in stone, but it was definitely in the works. I met with him in July and he, too, was open to the idea and the board was behind it 100 percent when I presented it to them in November.”
Fundraising will be the key for RTHS’ participation in the event.
“And for a lot of the monies that would be raised, we would likely rely on a lot of corporate sponsorship, not only in our area but elsewhere in the state. I’ve contacted state and federal legislators as well, the governor, too,” he said. “I met with the school board around the middle of November and the [fundraising] letters went our shortly after that.”
World War II Commemoration
In a letter to the RTHS Music Dept., MGySgt (retred) Earl T. Hurrey, Military and Veterans Liaison for Historic Programs wrote, that Veterans Day Weekend in Washington, D.C. “would be honored with a Parade of Heroes – A Monumental Salute to the Veterns who served in during three pivotal periods in our Nation’s History. This special ceremony will take place at the WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials. This historic commemoration will pay tribute to all the brave men and women who answered the call of duty during each of the wars for which these memorials are named.”
Hurrey continued that 2018 would mark the 75th Anniversary of World War II and in addition to performing as part of the ceremony, “we would like to feature your band in a tribute performance at the Iwo Jima Memorial. This monument to the valor of our United States Marines provides the perfect backdrop to your commemorative concert in honor of the veterans of World War II, and all those who have bravely defended our freedom.”
Costs and Sponsorship
Duval projects that a total of up to 25 bands from around the United States might participate in the weekend memorial. “There will be a mass band as well as an opportunity for the RTHS band to present their own music of one, or possibly two, performances. There will also be some time for the students to do some sightseeing that could include the Smithsonian Institution and a stop by the White House Visitor Center,” he said.
Estimated costs for the trip total roughly $92,000, or $844.48 per student. Assuming that roughly 100 band students participate, that totals $42,900. Although Duval has contacted state and federal legislators for funding and will seek corporate sponsorship, he indicates there are other ways for people to get involved.
Other sponsorship opportunities include a pledge or a check for $200 for an individual student and the remaining amount would be funded through corporate sponsorships. For each $200 pledge or check, a person will receive a special-designed shirt that states that person is a proud sponsor of an RTHS Marching Band student. The front of the shirt will have a commemorative design reflecting the 75th anniversary of World War II and the date 2018. To gauge the progress of funding, one of the first things that will be done is to make a contributions “thermometer” so everyone can see at a glance the progress of fundraising. Duval’s corporate sponsorship goal is $50,000.
Anyone interested in financially supporting the project is encouraged to contact Ron Duval through e-mail at [email protected] or call 815-562-4161, ext. 6111.