A Burke County Public Schools high school band student has been invited to speak at the Brittany American Cemetery in France in June during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of World War II Allied forces invading northern France.
Luke Duckworth is a senior at Patton High School and will prepare a speech related to his experience in Normandy and what it means to honor World War II veterans and D-Day survivors.
Burke County’s four high school bands –– Draughn, East Burke, Freedom and Patton –– will travel to Normandy, France , on June 2-11. The bands will participate in several performances and parades.
“Truthfully, I was initially shocked that I had been chosen, but I am so honored and humbled to be given this opportunity,” Duckworth said.
The four high school band directors discussed potential students and decided on Duckworth .
“This is a tremendous honor for our band programs, for Burke County Public Schools and for Luke,” said Jon Berry, East Burke High School band director. “The request came to us based on our past efforts in support of veterans here at home and abroad. We –– the BCPS High School Bands –– collectively were asked to supply a student who can represent BCPS in this honor role well.”
Patton High School Band Director Chad Higden said, “Luke is an outstanding young man. He has been a true leader in the Patton High School Band. He is kind, trustworthy, dedicated and extremely talented. Luke will represent Burke County and North Carolina well.”
Duckworth will deliver a three- to five-minute speech reflective of his experiences in preparation for and in anticipation of the 75th D-Day commemorative events. He will represent not only the school system but the state, the country and his age group as well.
“It means so much to be able to represent Patton, North Carolina and the United States,” Duckworth said. “I’m extremely excited to honor the World War II veterans and D-Day survivors.”
His speech is still in progress, but will focus on his experiences in Normandy and plans to stress the importance of remembering D-Day and those who fought for true justice, he said.
The events will be broadcast on French national television. In addition to the performances related to the official ceremonies, the band students will have time for some sightseeing.
“I’m very thrilled to be immersed in the French culture and to step foot on one of the most important areas in modern history,” Duckworth said.
Luke is the son of Kenneth and Tessa Duckworth and the late Tracy Hunt.
The combined BCPS bands traveled to Hawaii two years ago for Pearl Harbor ceremonies and the East Burke Marching Cavaliers traveled to Normandy five years ago for 70th anniversary D-Day ceremonies.