Members of the Thomson High School Bulldog Brigade are getting ready for what Band Director Jesse Morlan called "the experience of a lifetime."
On Dec. 27, the band will travel to Honolulu, HI to perform as part of the 65th anniversary commemoration of the Pearl Harbor attack that launched the United States into World War II.
"I've had a long talk with the kids about Pearl Harbor and just the meaning of the service songs," Mr. Morlan said. "...When they play that over there at the USS Missouri, I think that, in itself will have a, I can't describe it. It's something they'll feel in their heart and in their gut."
The band has been preparing for the trip for two and a half years, and now that the time is near, planning has kicked into overdrive. The Bulldog Brigade will perform twice before returning to McDuffie County on Jan. 2.
"Our first performance is going to be at the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor, and we're doing some patriotic tunes there and some hymns and things like that to help the commemoration," Mr. Morlan said. "Of course we're marching in the Shriners' New Year's Day parade."
While on the island of Oahu, band members will get a taste of the Hawaiian culture from several different avenues. They will pay a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center which includes a Luau dinner. They will also visit the famed Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Also, since the beauty of nature is important to Hawaiian natives and tourists alike, band members will get to experience all kinds of tropical animal life while snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, whale watching on the North Shore and looking for sea turtles in Turtle Cove.
"It's one of the states, but it's a totally different culture," Mr. Morlan said.
Band students will also tour the Dole Pineapple Plantation, take a dinner cruise and visit Waikiki beach during their visit. But it is the tour of Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona memorial - where they will lay a wreath - which Mr. Morlan thinks will leave the deepest impression.
"If there's an affect on them, other than 'here we are having fun,' I think Pearl Harbor is going to grab them hard," he said.
The band has held a variety of fundraisers to make sure all of the members of the Bulldog Brigade can go. School system officials are proud of the band's participation in the commemoration of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack, and they say it will be a unique experience.
"I think this trip is going to be a whole bunch of experiences that, of course, will last a lifetime," Mr. Morlan said.