Greg Gilboe and his students don't have to attend school Monday. But they're not taking it as a day off.
Gilboe, the band director at Huntington Beach High School, plans to bring his 75-member ensemble to the annual Memorial Day ceremony at Pier Plaza. Every year, the band performs in the city's Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies, which the conductor sees as valuable chances for students to get acquainted with a part of history.
"I usually encourage them to go and say thanks to one of the veterans, just go up and shake their hand and say, 'Thank you,'" Gilboe said.
The band, which is scheduled to play the national anthem and "Taps" along with a musical interlude, will join veterans, religious leaders and others at the annual event. Gilboe's neighbor, American Legion member Dennis Bauer, has organized the ceremony for nearly a decade.
Monday, three regional politicians — State Sen. Tom Harman, Assemblyman Jim Silva and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher — will make appearances, while City Council members will read the names of the 94 Huntington Beach war casualties that appear on a monument outside City Hall.
The American Legion puts on three annual veterans ceremonies in Huntington Beach — for Memorial Day, Veterans Day and 9/11. Even though Memorial Day weekend is often hailed as the start of summer, Bauer said he sees the merriment stop during the ceremony.
"I'm facing out toward the water," he said. "When we do the national anthem, the volleyball players stop out of respect. People are outside the pier and they gather around. It's our best turnout of the year, and it's nice people still feel that way about those who have lost their lives."
Bauer, a Vietnam veteran, said he was unhappy at the time about being drafted, but grew from his experience overseas.
"I guess you mature as you get older," he said. "I told my kids, 'You kind of take this country for granted and the freedoms you have, but it's a country worth dying for so other people can have those freedoms. And it's a small percentage who do that, who go out there and put their lives on the line.'"
If You Go What: Memorial Day ceremonyWhere: Pier Plaza, Huntington BeachWhen: 11 a.m. MondayContact: (714) 536-3855