CHICAGO (CBS) — The only college marching band from Illinois invited to perform at the presidential inauguration was getting ready to leave for Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
The Tiger Marching Band from Olivet Nazarene University was heading to the nation’s capital at 7 a.m.
The band is heading to D.C. as the only band from Illinois selected to take part in President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration parade.
“It’s kind of like making history,” said color guard member Katherine Druse.
Dean of music Don Reddick said he believes he knows why the small school was tapped for such a huge honor.
“I think part of it has to do with the fact that we are one of the largest Christian university marching bands in existence,” he said.
It’s that 100-year-old Christian tradition that has been cited by critics who say the band shouldn’t attend the inauguration, because they don’t believe Trump’s statements and behavior are in keeping with Christian values.
However, for the most part, band members said the Olivet community has been supportive of their decision to apply to take part in the parade.
Students who have been rehearsing for weeks said marching down Pennsylvania Avenue is the Christian thing to do.
“We’re going to respect the position of the presidency. We’re not going to represent Trump,” said saxophonist Michael Declue.
Druse said the controversy brought the band closer together.
“We were able to bond together as a family, and stand strong in the face of controversy,” she said.
The band said they hope, in some small way, their participation as the only band from Illinois can help unify the country after a bitterly divisive political campaign.
“We should continue as Christians to love and to support this country, and to hope for the best,” Emily Sturgeon said.
“Even though we have differences, we should still be united for a purpose. Music is a universal language,” Malik Temple said.
The band intends to perform its signature song, the Chicago Tribune March, along with other tunes.