Empowered by a community who understood the value of their youth program, a diverse group of area teens set aside other interest to participate in community events. While it was routine – and always fun – for each member of the corps to take part in local activities, those same activities served to teach important lessons about civic responsibility.
The Rebels were often the cornerstone of area parades, celebrations, dedications, and memorial services. Whether celebrating the nation’s independence, participating in a gubernatorial inauguration, raising the flag to recognize those who served, or commemorating an historic event – The Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps helped bring out crowds. The corps also brought pageantry, while adding solemnity to important occasions.
As a headliner for civic affairs and local events, Argonne was the wellspring of community pride. Teams of citizens rallied round their Rebels everywhere they appeared locally to witness a glittering performance, and show their support. Officials designated “Argonne Rebels Days.” Citizens responded generously. Throngs appeared night after night to view rehearsals on a warm summer evening. Crowds cheered with their best wishes while their corps boarded busses to distant states. Crowds warmly greeted the victors upon their return. The community proudly championed its youth – the pride and joy of Great Bend and Barton County.
Learn more about the history and heritage of the corps, and its rise to national prominence. Explore the current exhibition: The Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps / The Hometown Team / How Our Community Championed Its Youth, through Sept. 5, at the Great Bend Public Library. The exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street Program, sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council.