OLATHE, Kan. -- It's a huge honor, and a holiday built around reverence.
Nearly 200 members of the Olathe Northwest High School Pride Marching Band are preparing for a special show. They've accepted an invitation to perform in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C. One member of the marching band will carry the military in his heart during that performance.
"Ten, hut!" the band's leaders belted out the verbal commands during Wednesday afternoon's rehearsal.
Those directives to perform are instructions this marching band lives for. When the ONWHS Pride Marching Band performs on Monday, thousands of military members, as well as national leaders, including President Donald Trump, are expected to take in their performance. Olathe Northwest's band teacher, Bob Davis, says his musicians will perform two songs: the patriotic classic "God Bless America" and "Smoke on the Water," the 1960's Deep Purple classic, which is the band's tribute to the Vietnam War era.
Liam Mundis, an Olathe NW souzaphone player, will march with purpose in that gathering. Mundis, 17, will report for basic training on July 31st, as he enlists in the United States Army.
"This nation has done so much for me. Having the opportunity to give back to it is one of the things I've thought about and I'm really excited to do," Mundis told FOX 4 News.
American pride is more than a slogan to Mundis, who says the past four generations of Liam's family have served in the Army. He says he's planned all his life to keep the service going. Mundis displayed one of the five buttons he'll wear on his band uniform on Monday afternoon. He and other Raven marchers will wear the photo buttons, which display the names and faces of military members within their own families, some of whom have died in the line of service.
"Being in the parade," Mundis said, "The entire time, I expect that's all I'm going to be thinking about. In a couple of weeks, I'm going to be wearing the same uniform as these guys. It's exciting and humbling."
"I'm so proud of him," Davis, who has led the Pride band for six years, said.
"What an exciting thing for him and for all of our students to be able to participate in to celebrate him and the choice he's made."
"(Mundis) takes it very seriously, and as a weight on his shoulders and as a great honor to be able to serve our country," Brys Emch, another Northwest High musician, said.
"It's for the veterans who have given everything for us. It's the ultimate sacrifice," Mundis said.
Mundis, who will participate in basic training in at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, says as a soldier, he plans to trade being a musician to become a munitions specialist. Mundis says he`s not a kid anymore, and as high school ends, service to our nation begins.
The Northwest High School Band also played in the Veterans Day Parade in New York City four years ago. Raven musicians will endure a 17-hour bus ride to reach our nation's capital. Their cross country journey begins on Thursday afternoon.