NORMAN — The Norman North High School marching band has been invited to represent the state in the 2013 Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Hawaii — that is, if band members can earn enough money to get there.
Ed Vezey, of Moore, a survivor of the battleship USS Oklahoma's capsizing, is committed to helping the students make the trip to help honor his fallen comrades.
Vezey, 92, is one of only 25 survivors from the ship still living and the only one in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma capsized after being struck by as many as 10 Japanese torpedoes in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.
The attack killed 429 sailors and Marines on the Oklahoma, including Vezey's best friend and bunkmate, Francis “Frank” Flaherty.
To kick off the band's fundraising campaign, Vezey set up a scholarship fund in Flaherty's name, with enough kickoff money to pay for one band member's trip.
The four-day/three-night trip to Honolulu is estimated to cost each of the 120 band members $1,650, or $198,000 for all of them.
“Some of our students can afford it, but some can't. We don't want to leave any of them behind,” said Teresa Baggett. She and her husband, Trent, are co-presidents of the Norman North Band Boosters Association and leaders in the fundraising effort.
The Baggetts are hoping other veterans will offer to sponsor some of the band members. Other fundraising efforts include a golf tournament at the Belmar Golf Club on June 3, several fundraising concerts, pancake breakfasts, raffles and car washes, with dates to be announced in the coming months.
The students have set a goal of raising $40,000 through their fundraising efforts, and parents have committed to matching their children's efforts with $40,000, Trent Baggett said.
“But that leaves another $118,000 that we need to raise,” Teresa Baggett said. “We're turning to the community at-large and asking for help.”
Dec. 7 will mark the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Each of the eight battleships moored at Pearl Harbor during the attack will be represented in the parade by a marching band from the state that bears its name. Survivors of each ship will serve as the grand marshals.
Besides participating in the parade, the Norman North band students will take part in a number of educational activities while in Hawaii, including meeting and hearing stories from the survivors.
Norman North tuba player Samantha Baggett said she has always been fascinated with World War II, probably because her grandfather was a pilot in the war.
“To have the opportunity to witness the World War II Memorial Parade in Hawaii is indescribable. I can't think of a better way to expand my World War II horizons than to visit the place where it started for America and to be able to visit it with my closest band members,” she said.
Traveling to Hawaii to participate in this event “is an experience of a lifetime for these students,” said Teresa Baggett. “This is not only a chance to represent Oklahoma, but it is a chance for them to learn about the significance of Pearl Harbor in relation to World War II.”
At a glance
Marching band fundraiser
Businesses and individuals can purchase sponsorship levels that carry advertising benefits. The highest sponsorship level is gold at $5,000. A silver sponsorship is $2,500 and a bronze sponsorship is $1,000.
Individual donations of any amount are welcome and may be mailed to Norman North band, in care of Matt Hedrick, Norman North High School, 1809 Stubbeman Ave., Norman, OK 73069.
Donations also can be made online with PayPal at nnhsband.wix.com/pearlharborparade13.