Veterans Day & The Evolution of Awesome


A year ago I was on a 180 day journey. It was a journey of awesome. I made a pledge to myself, to my students, and to my profession that I was going to intentionally find those moments that deserved to be celebrated, even when it felt like nothing was going right. I was on the quest to find little things that really did make a big difference in my day.

On veterans day last year, that awesome was found in the song Taps. It was day 59/180. Here is a direct excerpt from my book 180 Days of Awesome


Today at the Veterans day assembly, four students from the band took the corners of the gym and played taps on trumpets. They each did this individually, one corner at a time. It gave me chills. But this time it was different. The student in the 4th corner was struggling. He had no doubt practiced it hundreds of times flawlessly, but in the live performance the notes just weren’t coming out right. He took deep breaths, stayed calm, and the gym of 800+ students remained silent. After the 4th inaccurate attempt, the kid from the 3rd corner stepped in and finished for his buddy. Simply awesome teamwork that brought tears to my eyes.

One year later, I found myself in the same gym celebrating the same, special holiday. I am what my mom calls “a veteran’s day baby” being born on November 12th, so I’ve always had a special place in my heart for honoring those who serve and have served our country. This assembly was the same in so many ways as last year. Tons of people from all areas of the military were honored, we sang Proud to Be an American, and Taps was played on the trumpets. But there was something very, very different about Taps this time. The boy who had such a hard time last year as a 7th grader was back. This time as an 8th grader. Let’s take a second to celebrate his grit. After a rather public, middle school traumatic experience, he was back in a corner giving it another try. I loved that! This time he was lead trumpet. Yep, first one to play. To set the tone for the whole song, for the whole experience. That is a high pressure situation. I started tearing up before one note was even played. I was so proud of this young man for coming back and giving it another try. He played his trumpet and it sounded so beautiful. The notes of the song filled the gym and it was flawless. Literally, flawless.

My eyes welled up and I couldn’t stop myself from just taking in the moment. We as teachers love celebrating the successes of our students. But this situation was more than that. He was publicly declaring, via a trumpet, that setbacks and stumbles happen, it’s what you do after that really matters.

Today let’s celebrate our veterans, let’s celebrate kids, and let’s celebrate all things awesome!