Monday, October 2, 2023

Tolar High School Band: Challenge coins designed for Pearl Harbor survivors


The Tolar High School Rattler Band has been gearing up for months to perform during the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack in Hawaii on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

But now, the band has been tasked with another prestigious honor during the visit, making the trip even more special for the students.

Friends of Memorial Lane and Visit Granbury partnered with local business owner Mary Mullen of Forge Laser Creations & Designs, to create multiple copies of two handmade wooden “challenge coins.” Members of the Tolar Rattler Band will personally hand deliver the coins to the survivors of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack and active-duty service members during the commemoration.

The bigger coins are about three inches wide and will be presented in gift boxes to the 15 original surviving soldiers from the Pearl Harbor attack.

The smaller coins are about an inch-and-a-half wide and will be presented to 150 active-duty service members.

“With the amount of kids that we have, each kid is going to have approximately three to four coins to hand out personally to service members,” said Laura Fisher, representative of Friends of Memorial Lane in Granbury.

The coins are unique to the event, with “Survivor” printed on the larger coin and “Participant” printed on the smaller coin.

“Mary (Mullen) makes things for Friends of Memorial Lane that nobody else has, so when we give them out, they're the only ones in the world like them,” said Julia Pannell, representative of Friends of Memorial Lane. “It’s strictly for the 80th anniversary.”

Each coin will have “Visit Granbury – Granbury, TX,” “Friends of Memorial Lane” and “Tolar, TX,” printed on the wood, as a way for Hood County to be represented thousands of miles away.

"These coins are going all the way over to Pearl Harbor with the band. It is just a really cool, first-time-ever way for us to say ‘Visit Granbury’ all the way at Pearl Harbor,” said Tammy Dooley, director of Visit Granbury.

The challenge coins are certainly unique to the event, but the act of giving them is also something that has never been done before.

“In the 35 years that they have been doing this ceremony, no one has ever asked to give the survivors something like this,” Pannell said.

The Tolar Rattler Band was originally invited by Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Music Celebrations International to represent Texas and perform at Pearl Harbor’s historic Hangar 79 as part of the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

To commemorate the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, the band will take part in an official military wreath-laying ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial and an official flag-folding ceremony at the USS Missouri Memorial.

“This is really about community more than anything, because it took Friends of Memorial Lane, Visit Granbury and the Tolar Rattler Band to make it all happen,” Pannell added.

“It's still very humbling and very exciting,” said Tolar Band Director Aaron Noland. “We are ready to get there and perform for the veterans and be able to see some history firsthand that the kids haven't seen before.”


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