Keone‘ula Fifes, Flags Honor Battleship Missouri
Fifes, drums and flags were on full display May 15 when 77 Keone‘ula Elementary School fifthand sixth-grade students, who comprise the school’s Fife, Drum and Flag Corps, showcased their talents aboard the retired USS Missouri.
“Our Music Exhibition Program provides school bands, choirs and performing arts groups with opportunities to pay tribute to the Mighty Mo and her veterans through music,” said Battleship Missouri Memorial director of education Dan Parsons.
“These important onboard activities allow Hawaii’s students, and students from across the country, to experience this living piece of history firsthand and take part in honoring the legacy of the Battleship Missouri Memorial.”
The group — 11 drummers, 24 fifes, 18 flags and 24 choral students — practiced for eight months in class and at home as homework assignments. Students in fifth grade began learning to play the fife as early as August 2014. (A fife, for those less musically inclined, is a six-holed instrument that is played like a piccolo.)
“It was difficult and sometimes frustrating for elementary students to learn to play a traditional fife and/or drum,” said band director Rodney Uyehara. “For many students, this was the first introduction to playing any instrument.”
Still, it was an educational experience for those who participated, as students were given a brief history of World War II.
And while a majority of students who attend Keone‘ula are from Hawaii, 25 percent also come from military families. “The opportunity to pay pierside at the Battleship Missouri was our way to honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, past and present,” said Uyehara.
“The performance went very well and the entire Fife, Drum and Flag Corps and accompanying chorus made Keone‘ula Elementary School very proud.”