San Pedro High band marches in the nation’s 2023 Memorial Day Parade

California

The third time was the charm.

After the coronavirus pandemic canceled two earlier attempts in 2020 and 2021, the San Pedro High School marching band finally participated in the annual 2023 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 29.

Award-winning bands are chosen for the special invitation to march in the high-profile National Memorial Day Parade each year, which includes a four-day stay that provides students with the opportunity to view historical sites and participate in other performances.

  • The San Pedro High School marching band visits Arlington National...

    The San Pedro High School marching band visits Arlington National Cemetery during a trip to Washington, D.C., during which the group participated in the annual 2023 National Memorial Day Parade. (Photo courtesy of Darnella Davidson)

  • The San Pedro High School marching band participated in the...

    The San Pedro High School marching band participated in the annual 2023 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 29. (Photo courtesy of SPHS music teacher Marc Manriquez)

  • The San Pedro High School marching band participated in the...

    The San Pedro High School marching band participated in the annual 2023 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 29. (Photo courtesy of SPHS music teacher Marc Manriquez)

  • The San Pedro High School marching band participated in the...

    The San Pedro High School marching band participated in the annual 2023 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 29. (Photo courtesy of SPHS music teacher Marc Manriquez)

The Golden Pirate Regiment — with band, drumline and color guard —  took in museums and exhibits during its stay in Washington, D.C. The students also performed in the Lincoln Memorial and National Memorial Concert at the Capitol Building. But the highlight, under band Director Marc Manriquez and color guard Director Victoria Montalvo, was that long-awaited opportunity to march in the national parade that pays tribute to the nation’s fallen warriors.

Also along for the trip was former SPHS Band Director Darnella Davidson, who spearheaded the efforts in 2020 and 2021. She retired from the position after 38 years at the school in 2021. Some of the band students from those earlier years, during which the trip was planned but didn’t materialize were able to finally make this trip as well.

Those students, now seniors, were also able to make a side trip to recognize a former high school band member — U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, the son of San Pedro High graduates. He played bassoon and bass drum in his high school marching band in Germany, where his family was stationed. Later, Black served during the Afghanistan War and is now buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He lost his life in the Niger ambush on Oct. 4, 2017, as U.S. service members were attacked returning to base.

At the right in the group photo are Davidson and Manriquez.

Black’s mother, Karen Ericsson Black (SPHS Class of 1975) of Washington state, commented on a Facebook post about the side trip: “Oh my goodness! You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for rendering such honors. We’re so glad you were finally able to make the trip.”

She and her husband, Henry Black — who graduated from San Pedro High in 1971 and spent 20 years in U.S. Marine Corps  — supported the school’s efforts, launched in 2019, for the first planned trip to the nation’s capital, providing funding for some student scholarships.

The student visit this year from their alma mater to Bryan’s graveside was a surprise, Karen Black said.

The students also laid a wreath at the World War II memorial.

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