As HBCU students and alumni we know the greatness of our institutions, but it is really special when we can share that greatness with other parts of the world. Morgan State University’s Magnificent Marching Machine performed at the 80th Anniversary and Commemoration of D-Day in Normandy, France on June 12, making them the first HBCU to participate in the event.

More than 100 students from Morgan State’s marching band performed in a parade to remember and honor military service members. In an interview with WJZ before their historic trip, the band expressed how important this moment was for them.

“It is bigger than the band,” said Jorim E. Reid Sr. D.M.A, the director of Morgan State’s Magnificent Marching Machine. “Our students have been prepared and educated on what this means.”

“Not just HBCU bands but all marching bands come from the military and that’s often forgotten,” Reid explained. “And the traditions of the syncopated movements, the regimented activities, the discipline, the flair, the dignity has already been attributed to marching bands.”

This trip for band director Jorim Reid was personal as his grandfather was a World War II veteran. Battling not far from the same beach they performed on.

“I would not be here if he hadn’t survived,” said Reid. “10,000 soldiers on that beach where we will be marching on. There’s blood in that sand.”

D-Day is recognized by the world as the day thousands of troops stormed the beach of Normandy to fight and liberate France from Nazi control on June 6, 1944. For Morgan State not only was this a historic moment that showcased their talent to the world, but an opportunity that reminded them what that moment truly meant and how it changed the world.

Their performance paid homage to “The Greatest Generation.” These were the thousands of Americans who sacrificed their lives and served during World World II. Their performance included renditions of “Taps” and “American the Beautiful” as they marched in the parade at Omaha Beach.

Both Reid and Morgan State students shared their excitement and gratitude before heading to France for the performance.

“To just be a part of the first HBCUs to do this Normandy D-Day Parade— is a very blessed opportunity,” said Dante Travis, a sophomore student and member of the band.

“I really just thank God for real,” said Nia Brown, another member.

“Definitely a great opportunity. Our students are grateful. It’s a blessing for our students. Our current students experience something like this,” said Reid.