Photo: UF Bands

The UF Gator Marching Band has received a formal invitation from the mayors of Vierville-sur-Mer and Saint Laurent-sur-Mer to be the premier performance ensemble and parade leader for the events surrounding the 80th Anniversary of D-Day. The parade route travels adjacent to Omaha Beach and will conclude with Gator Band’s standstill performance on the beach at the Les Braves Omaha Beach Memorial, which commemorates the American soldiers who lost their lives on D-Day. The Gator Band will also conduct a wreath laying at the Normandy American Cemetery on behalf of the University of Florida with a performance from students in the Gator Band to honor the fallen American soldiers. The 80th Anniversary of D-Day is expected to be the last major commemoration of this event due to the age of surviving veterans. Additionally, the Gator Band will perform at Montmartre, in the shadow of Sacre Couer, to commemorate the Allied liberation of Paris.

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Photo: UF Bands


Benefit to Program and Students

This opportunity allows the Gator Band to continue its valuable international ambassadorship on behalf of the School of Music, College of the Arts and the University of Florida, having previously served as invited performers at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the 2023 St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in Ireland. The 80th Anniversary of D-Day events would allow UF to be prominently displayed on a high-profile international stage that is expected to be attended by leaders of multiple Allied countries, further strengthening UF’s commitment to military service and veteran’s affairs. 
It provides for a continued expansion of UF’s international outreach efforts in establishing study-abroad and other cultural exchange programs in the Allied countries that will be represented. Further, this opportunity allows UF band students (comprised of 100+ majors) to 
experience an abbreviated study-abroad program of cultural outreach while performing and touring major historical sites. Lastly, a historical tour and performance opportunity of this nature acknowledges and showcases the extraordinary work done by the largest, most-visible, non-scholarship student group at the University of Florida.

In preparation, students in the Gator Band are conducting research to identify names and stories of UF students and alumni who fought in WWII and cross-referencing for those whose units participated in D-Day. We plan to have a banner of all UF names and to do individual recognitions for those that landed in Normandy.