This Thursday, thousands of people in Catawba County will be disappointed once again by the actions of a handful of self-serving public servants.

The band directors for Bandys, Bunker Hill, Maiden, Fred T. Foard, and St. Stephens have “chosen” to not participate in the 130th Soldiers Reunion parade.

Do not lay blame on the county school superintendent and do not blame the Catawba County school board.  A few years ago they worked out a compromise to let the high school band directors decide if they would participate in events with the provision that any student who was not comfortable in participating with the parade to opt out of marching.

I do not know if the students were asked their opinion or had a vote in the matter this year. Last year, the same band directors did not announce their decision to participate and it came as a rude surprise. They have not had the nerve to announce it this year either. All I can say is way to set an example to your students by hiding from responsibility.

These band directors owe our veterans an explanation as well as the kids in the bands. I am sure the young adults in the band would love to showcase their talents to a very large crowd of friends and family. High school bands have always been an exciting part of the highly successful parade. Thanks to some narrow-minded people, they won’t have that opportunity.

I picked the theme, “We Remember,” for the 130th Soldiers Reunion this year with the band fiasco from last year in mind.  Our children need to remember our local veterans and the sacrifice that they have given to them.

Some people want to tie “Hate” to Soldiers Reunion due to a handful of over enthusiastic civil war fans; but there is no hate. That battle flag is a piece of cloth and is a fading distant memory.  Remembering our neighbors who fought for our freedom is real, it is tangible, and is the sole purpose of the Soldiers Reunion week of activities.

You cannot use the excuse of fear in making your determination to not attend.  Soldiers Reunion is safe and always has been for 13 decades. Ask a veteran what fear is, for they know better than all of us. Claiming Soldiers Reunion isn’t safe is a bogus excuse.  It is safe for the cheerleaders, the Girl and Boy Scouts, the various queens, and hundreds of other kids who participate; it is safe for the bands.

The highest honor a citizen, including high school band members, of Catawba County can do is to thank those who have served in the military.

I ask the citizens and business community to remember the decision of the five band directors when they come asking for a contribution or support for a band trip to a competition or holiday celebration. If these five cannot support our people, then our people ought to reciprocate.

Yerby Ray

Catawba County Soldiers Reunion committee member

Newton, NC

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