Two groups from Utah performing in Normandy, France for 80th anniversary of D-Day

Jun 4, 2024, 5:44 PM | Updated: 6:41 pm

SOUTH JORDAN — You can learn a lot from history books and online articles at school. McKay Taylor has been reading about World War II and the D-Day landings at Normandy.

“On the beaches, there were a lot of mines,” said Taylor to some of his friends at school. “They had to get through trip wires and mines.”

But there is nothing like learning about history while being at the place where it happened, which is why he is excited for this week.

“I think it is going to be incredible because that is where a lot of men died saving our country,” he said. “It will be good to see it in person and learn what they went through.”

Taylor is a student at Anthem Preparatory School (formerly American Heritage) in South Jordan and is joining several of his classmates for a trip to Normandy, France, that they will never forget.

“I would put it on a scale of one to 10, an easy 10. Easy 10,” said Hunter Taylor, who is also a student at the school.

Students and their families are also going to support the school’s dance team which will perform during the parade honoring the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

“They have been working really hard. We started practicing back in January, so they have been working for months and months on their routines and perfecting them,” said Anthem Prep dance director Angi Jones.

Anthem Preparatory School in South Jordan will be traveling to Normandy, France to perform for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. (Anthem Preparatory School)

Anthem Prep was invited to Normandy because the school also performed in Pearl Harbor for that 80th anniversary a few years ago. The same production company planning the events for Normandy planned Pearl Harbor.

“They already knew about our dancers and our dance program and coaches. So, they invited us back and we are very excited to do,” said school director Elsha Yorgason. “There aren’t enough words to express how hard they have worked to be ready for this.”

The Utah Pipe band will be traveling to Normandy, France to perform for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. (Utah Pipe Band)

Another group in Utah was invited to Normandy as well. John Barclay and his friends are heading to France, too.

Barclay is the manager of the Utah Pipe Band, which will have 54 of its members performing in Normandy. The band was also in attendance at the Pearl Harbor anniversary performance.

“We are excited to go there and do that,” Barclay said, smiling.

The Utah Pipe Band will perform during the parade at the first French town to be liberated from the Nazis during World War II. They’ll also play their bagpipes at Omaha Beach.

Barclay said playing the bagpipes on that beach will be the honor of a lifetime.

“Words can’t describe it. It is outstanding,” he said with tears in his eyes. “The bagpipes, the Scots used the bagpipes to connect the emotions of the event and that is why when you see great events, bagpipes are there. It just makes the event so meaningful and so much more impressive.”

It is a trip both groups from Utah feel their experiences will stay with them for a long time.

“We are representing Anthem Preparatory and we are also representing Utah and America. It is humbling to go there and honor those soldiers,” Jones said. “We are just grateful for their service and for all that they have done for us.”

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Two groups from Utah performing in Normandy, France for 80th anniversary of D-Day