Marching Southerners to Perform at 80th Anniversary of D-Day in 2024


by Buffy Lockette

They led the parade celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in London in 2012, marking her 60th year on the throne. 

They performed near the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii in 2016, recognizing the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

In 2019, they marched in the World Peace Day Parade in the Vatican, receiving a blessing from His Holiness Pope Francis. 

Now, JSU’s famed Marching Southerners have been invited to perform in Normandy, France, in June 2024 to observe the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Band leadership notified students on Tuesday they will represent the US in ceremonies organized by the D-Day Commemoration Committee.

The band will perform along with other ensembles, choirs and JROTC students in two official public ceremonies memorializing those laid to rest on the beaches of Normandy - on June 6 at St. James American Cemetery and June 7 at Normandy American Cemetery. On June 8, they will participate in a parade starting in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the first village to be liberated by American troops. 

“This will be an amazing experience for our students,” said Dr. Ken Bodiford, JSU director of bands. “We are honored to help salute the brave men and women who fought to liberate Western Europe and turn the tide of World War II.” 

The world renowned Marching Southerners won the top honor given to college marching bands in December, the prestigious Sudler Trophy from the John Phillip Sousa Foundation. Given to one collegiate marching band every two years, the award is the equivalent of winning the Heisman Trophy. JSU is the smallest university ever to win the trophy since the awards program was created 40 years ago. 

Established in 1956, the Marching Southerners band is the pride of Jacksonville State University, serving as not just game day entertainment but also as ambassadors for the institution. Housed within the Dr. David L. Walters Department of Music, the 500 member band is comprised of a diverse group of students from across campus, many of whom are studying to become high school band directors. With class and excellence, the Southerners extend “The Friendliest Campus in the South” wherever they go, both on the field and off. Learn more at