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Ben Kept His Promise – And Yes, That Was Him on The CBS Evening News

by | May 31, 2022

Ben Mitchell, 11, played “Taps” at the Memorial Day event in 2020.


Last year at Memorial Day I wrote a piece about Ben Mitchell, the young man who had gotten me out of a bind on Memorial Day 2020.

So this year, when I realized that I would be out of town on Memorial Day, I confess to wondering if anybody would notice the absence of the informal ceremony at the Davidson College War Memorial. About three weeks ago, I got my answer. Ben’s Mom got in touch with me to ask if I needed someone to play “Taps” on Memorial Day.

I felt guilty in replying that I hadn’t planned the ceremony due to an out of town obligation.

Ben Mitchell on Memorial Day 2021

Then last week another person in town reached out to ask about the ceremony. I had to let them know that there wouldn’t be a ceremony, but perhaps they could attend the annual event at The Pines.

It was the combination of those emails that prompted me to place flags at the college war memorial before heading out of town.

Monday afternoon Ben’s Mom tagged me on her post on Facebook. Ben had suggested that they still make the trip to the memorial so that he could play “Taps,” even without the ceremony. And so they did. She posted the video of him performing the 24 somber notes that form the deeply emotional “Taps.”

But that’s not the end of the story. In 2020, the desire to have a real, live trumpeter or bugler perform “Taps” was to participate in “Taps Across America.” The national effort was spearheaded by CBS Evening News’ Steve Hartman. The idea was to have people all across America play “Taps” at 3:00 p.m. to truly remember the history behind Memorial Day.

And so not only did Ben play “Taps” in 2020, we sent the video off to CBS Evening News in hopes that they would include his effort as a part of their story. But no luck. They didn’t include his performance.

Last year, we tried to increase our chances by inviting CBS affiliate WBTV to cover the ceremony, and most importantly – to record Ben’s performance. And while it did wind up on WBTV, it still didn’t get selected for the national broadcast.

This year, Ben’s performance was captured by his Mom. She shared it on her Facebook page. After getting her permission, we shared in on the News of Davidson Facebook page. And then some how, some way, it happened.

Later Monday evening, I saw a post on a closed Facebook group of Davidson ROTC Alumni. It was a screenshot of Ben. Yes, the 2022 version of Ben – older and taller than in the two previous years.

A screenshot from Ben’s appearance on Monday Night’s CBS Evening News.

I just figured that his Mom had emailed the video to CBS. She hadn’t. She was surprised when I let her know that Ben had made the national news. Ben was not only surprised, he was glad that he had convinced his family to take him to Davidson to play “Taps” on Memorial Day 2022.

As I mentioned last year, Ben promised to keep coming back. I’m here to say that Ben kept his promise.

Thank you Ben!



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