Marching Southerners selected to represent United States at D-Day ceremony

Members of the Marching Southerners performed at the Board of Trustees meeting shortly before the announcement. Photo courtesy of Matt Reynolds and Katie Alexander/JSU

Abigail Harrison, News Editor

Exciting news for the JSU Marching Southerners was announced at the Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 25.

President Killingsworth announced the marching band has been invited to represent the United States at the 80th commemoration of D-Day in Normandy, France.

“This invitation is based on your university band’s outstanding reputation, professionalism, and your standing in your community. The Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners Band has our highest respect for your dedication to our veterans,” Killingsworth read from the Historic Programs’ invitation to the band.

In 2024, the Southerners will fly to Normandy to participate in a D-Day parade and ceremonies. They will also have the chance to tour some of France’s historical attractions.

According to Dr. Bodiford, Director of Bands, during the ceremony the band will perform in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first village liberated by the United States.

Bodiford said the trip will cost students about $3,400 each. The price covers travel expenses, hotel rooms, and meals. Killingsworth said he will work on starting a committee to help the Southerners with fundraising efforts to cover the cost.

Killingsworth expressed his gratitude to the band for all they do for the university and said he is excited for this opportunity for the students.

“I’m just a proud alumni, and I’m proud to be leading this institution. It just makes a heart feel good to know that what I get to live and breathe everyday about these great things going on in this institution that now everybody else is seeing it, especially across the world. There’s no better ambassador than the Marching Southerners.”

The announcement comes after a very successful season for the band. On Dec. 8, 2021, the Marching Southerners were awarded the prestigious Sudler Trophy, which Killingsworth referred to as the Heisman Trophy of marching bands.

According to Bodiford, JSU is the smallest university to win the trophy, and the band is honored.

“We’re just all ecstatic about it. We’re so happy,” said Bodiford. “I think one reason that we’re so excited is because we feel like we made it through COVID. Two years ago we were all so down when we had to cancel band for the fall season, and now to have this come along it’s just kind of lifted everybody’s spirits again.”

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