Frontier High School Director of Bands, Douglas Kelley, is teaching beyond the books through performing arts. The Frontier High School Marching Titans’ field show, “Belated Honor,” is in remembrance of the Tuskeegee Airmen and the legacy they led. Mr. Kelley and his Marching Titans gathered in the heart of the Frontier campus to showcase their musical performance in front of the veterans from the 2021 Honor Flight in Kern County.
The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit service throughout the country that helps veterans travel to Washington D.C. to see the memorials built in their honor. Honor Flight Kern County (HFKC) was created to honor veterans of Kern County and surrounding areas. HFKC says, “Top priority is given to our most senior veterans – World War II veterans – and those from any conflict that are terminally ill – followed by Korean and Vietnam veterans.”
Mr. Kelley invited the HFKC veterans to Frontier High School to honor them through music with their performance of “Belated Honor.” In addition to the instrumental music, their performance is accompanied by visual elements from their color guard and an educational narration detailing the importance of this historical group of Black men.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps (AAC), a precursor of the U.S. Air Force. They flew more than 15,000 individual missions in Europe and North Africa during World War II. These missions earned them more than 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, a medal of heroism, or extraordinary achievements. Although they did represent an important step towards racial integration of the military, The Tuskegee Airmen returned home and continued to face systemic racism and prejudice.
In 1948, President Truman issued the executive order to desegregate the U.S. Armed Forces. A number of the original Tuskegee Airmen would go on to build long careers in the military and receive the Congressional Gold Medal from President Bush in 2007.
Douglas Kelley dedicated his entire marching season to honor and remember the Tuskegee Airmen. Mr. Kelley successfully created an educational environment for his students in which they were able to share with many people including other students, family members, school staff, and more. Their full performance can be found here.