Boaz is nowhere near the seas, yet their high school chose “Pirates" as its mascot.

Those Pirates will go to sea and beyond this week, crossing the Atlantic to Paris and then back to the coast of Normandy on the English Channel. It’s a destination that 175,000 Americans reached on June 6, 1944 — 80 years ago.

The Boaz High School (BHS) Marching Pirates will leave Tuesday for the French coast for a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the group of 100 young musicians, plus adults.

 “A lot of our students have never been off Sand Mountain,” BHS Band Director Alex Stephenson told WHNT.

Boaz sits near Alabama’s Etowah/Marshall County line and is recognized as the Southern entry to Sand Mountain.  It's also one of the Southernmost points in the Appalachian Mountain chain.

Stephenson and assistant band director Lauren Lingerfelt will conduct the group to Europe to perform before the eyes of the world. The BHS Marching Pirates will play and march on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day itself, and again on June 7 and 8.

The band will perform during the two official public wreath-laying ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery and the Brittany American Cemetery. They will also perform a concert in Sainte-Mere-Eglise for the International Salute to Liberation. The band will then march in the D-Day memorial parade. After the parade, the band will be transported to Paris for sightseeing and further performances.

Boaz High is the only Alabama band in the ‘D-Day at 80’ ceremony and the only Alabama school attending.

Hundreds of Alabama citizens in the Boaz area and across Alabama’s Tennessee Valley raised $600,000 to pay for the huge Alabama delegation to go.

The BHS Band is the largest student organization in the school.

Alabama folks gave the Boaz band a sending-off parade on May 30. Hundreds lined the sidewalks as the band marched from the high school to Boaz Middle School, previewing the performance they will give on the world stage in France. It was the final rehearsal before the big show.

D-Day was on June 6, 1944, when Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France in an invasion to liberate Western Europe from occupation by Nazi Germany. The Allied forces were able to oust the Nazi occupation and secure Northern France in three months. The mission of the D-Day Parade and the memorial ceremony is to honor our World War II veterans for their sacrifices and service. 

D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion in history. It marked the beginning of the end for the Nazi occupation.

Student band member Styles Waldrop told WHNT it will be "a humbling experience knowing the sacrifices taken by the countless heroes of the Second World War."

“It’s a huge honor, looking at all the people who served, who fought, who died and sacrificed for me to be where I am today and to have this opportunity is absolutely amazing,” Waldrop said.

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler’s beat is the colorful and positive about Alabama. He writes about Alabama people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.