Sunday, May 13, 2007

Shining Moment

From my vantage point I can see the entire cafetorium. There are eight alternating black and red draped tables running the length of the room with a wide aisle down the center. Across the back is one long table running the width of the large room. The room is filled with parents and teenagers laughing, talking and reminiscing. A young man is at the podium announcing the graduating seniors and remarking on their accomplishments and futures. No, this isn't the commencement ceremony but it is "the ceremony" of the year. The final band banquet for a hand full of hardworking kids.

This is a special time for senior band students. It is an event they look forward to for four years. But, Daredevil is an exception. He has been in the high school marching band for not four years but six. This is because his school is a junior/senior high school. He joined the band program in seventh grade. Twelve years old and marching amongst the high school students. Finally, he is a senior. The years of sweat and agony behind him. But, this ceremony wasn't for him. This wasn't his school. I felt disappointment for him. He wouldn't get the spot light he so deserved.

You see, at the end of last year, the Band Director reluctantly announced to "his kids" that he accepted a new position with a High School in another county. There were tears. There was anger. There was sadness. Daredevil was torn. JW, the band director, was torn. He had built the program from almost nothing, he had twelve students when he started, to a vibrant, award winning band program that was eighty strong. For eight years he had dedicated his heart, soul, and every waking moment to teach these kids the discipline and strength it takes to be a top marching band. He had been raising these children for years and now he had to leave them.

Chowhound immediately decided that he would follow the director. Music is his life and this man had instilled that in him. There wasn't any doubt in his mind. The opportunities were what he could learn from his teacher and not from the friends and school he would leave behind.

But, Daredevil was different. Music isn't his life. He loves marching band. After all he is the lead bass drum player. He is the one that marches the entire group to the beat of HIS drum. Throughout the fall marching season he is the man. He loves it. But, when spring comes the story changes. He hates concert band and will find anyway to get out of it. He isn't in the band for the music. So, he struggled with the decision to leave his "home" school in his senior year. His "home" school hired a new director who had no marching band experience. The program collapsed so Daredevil switched schools so he could be in the marching band for his senior year. After the season was over he transferred back to his "home" school. He wanted to graduate with his friends. Thus, there was no band banquet at his "home" school.

So, last night, we are at Chowhound's school. Chowhound's band banquet. Although Daredevil had been a student there and was a senior he wasn't one of the seniors. We weren't permitted to sit at the tables in the center reserved for seniors and their families. Of course, being the independent cusses they are, my boys weren't even sitting with me or their father. I could see Daredevil from where I sat. He was seated at the edge of the room, laid back in the chair with his arms crossed. The last of the seniors were announced. My heart cried for Daredevil. I knew he wouldn't admit it but there was disappointment that he didn't get his shining moment. But, he accepted it because he had made his decision, knew the consequences and was okay with it.

Then something unexpected happened. Something forever etched in my mind and heart. After the last senior was announced, the band director stepped up to the podium. He personally called Daredevil's name. Daredevil stood up and all eyes were focused on him. JW joked about Daredevil going back to the other school. He proudly admitted that he had been teaching him for six years. He recalled his surprise when he learned Daredevil joined the Marines. He congratulated him and thanked him for having the courage and strength to fight for our country. The applause was tremendous and then one by one everyone stood and applauded my son. I fought back the tears. I have never been so proud. Daredevil had his shining moment and more. He instantly had the respect of every person in that room. He told me later that afterwards people kept coming up and shaking his hand, congratulating him and thanking him. He said it was something he would never forget.