Eyes of Pride

“How are your eyes?” “With pride” belts out the group adorned in sequin capes and funny looking hats. A chilly Saturday evening breeze brushes past but does not distract them as they stand at attention. Unlike other high school students, they are not browsing the mall or playing video games at a friend’s house. Rather, they form a six row block in a school parking lot located hours away from their homes. Once again the question is asked, “Eyes?” “With pride!” they exclaim even louder.

This passion provoking chant is the most important thing I learned from my participation in high school marching band. It is a friendly vocal reminder that eyes can tell a lot about a person, including how confident they are. Marching band demands confidence and a simple rule is followed: always appear “tall”. Surrounded by this condition, I learned to hold my head up high – literally and emotionally.

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However, this newly formed sense of pride was put to the test at the last competition of my freshman marching season.

The band sizzled with excitement to perform our field show one last time under stadium lights and in front of a packed crowd. Our uniforms and eyes shined alike as they caught every glimpse of light. Feeling secure about the hard work put into our field show, we proudly marched onto the field. With high energy and intensity, we moved from picture to picture as our feet glided across the Astroturf. The audience cheered as we danced and the trumpet solo played. At the end of the last note they stood to their feet with explosive applause, giving us the only standing ovation of the night. Beaming and prouder than ever, we made our way off the field and waited on the track for the judges to tally the scores.

After the exhibition band presentation and a few minutes of nervous tension, a narration crept onto the speakers. “Ladies and gentlemen, the results of tonight’s competition…” The rowdy audience suddenly quieted. “In fourth place…” A silent cheer sounded inside of me when our name was not announced. “In third place, in second place…” Now I was certain we had come in first. “And tonight’s champion…” A name that was not ours. Shock filled the faces of my band mates as we looked to each other for answers. Yet, before anyone could let out a questioning groan, our band director asked the infamous question. “How are your eyes?” and I had no other choice but to respond, “With pride” despite our loss.

Even though we did not leave that night with a trophy in hand, we left with dignity and pride in our performance. I still believe that night showcased our band at a high level, both during the show and the awards ceremony. Poise can be displayed under any circumstance; even in the wake of disappointment, I can always face the world with eyes of pride.

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