In 2018, students of UNC Charlotte’s Pride of Niner Nation Marching band will travel overseas for eight days and six nights as they perform in honor of one of the most iconic battles of World War II: D-Day in Normandy.
“It is an incredible honor to have been selected to perform in France in June 2018, especially given that the”Pride of Niner Nation Marching Band was formed not quite a full year ago,” said Dr. Jeffrey Miller, associate director of bands and director of athletic bands at UNC Charlotte. “Many well-established programs go years without receiving invitations such as this, so it’s very humbling.”
Over the course of those eight days and six nights, UNC Charlotte’s marching band will have three performances. The first performance will be at the St. James American Cemetery in Brittany, France to honor American Veterans of WWII June 5, 2018. On June 6, 2018, which is the anniversary of D-Day, the band will perform in the town square of Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France as part of the musical salute to liberation. Sainte-Mere-Eglise was the first town to be liberated from the Germans by American troops. The final performance will be June 7, 2018 and will feature a performance at the Normandy American Cemetery.
After government reduction in funding of military bands, collegiate bands have been invited to fill that role and perform at these ceremonies. Other college bands have performed at D-Day ceremonies in the past, but UNC Charlotte’s Pride of Nations will be the only band to perform in 2018.
Despite it’s youth, UNC Charlotte’s band was chosen based off of their performances at on campus as well as in the Charlotte community. Also, the program received a recommendation from Bob Buckner, former director of the Western Carolina Pride of the Mountains Marching Band.
However, the costs of sending 150 band members, staff, dignitaries and equipment will require a large sum of money. The University estimates the total cost to send the band to France will be $250,000; which breaks down into $3,600 per students. A sum that Miller hopes to cut in half through donations over the next year and a half.
“We hope to reduce this cost by half … fortunately, we have a year and a half to plan and raise funds for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Miller.
Fundraising has already begun for the trip. Miller invites donations of any size. Supporters interested in making a donation may contact Miller via telephone at 704-687-6158 or students may contact Jennifer Anderson, UNC Charlotte’s band business services coordinator at 704-687-5280.