The night was one of those early summer nights where the air hasn’t yet gotten tired from the heat. The grass stretched before us, each blade standing at its full 3 and a half inches of attention. The Barracks spanned our foreview, a massive, rolling brick building with a soft grace offered by its sweet arches. A single bell hung before the center arch, to be rung each hour on the hour.
Lighter chimes than the bell’s floated across the lawn; women in cocktail dresses and men in uniforms clinked their glasses of champagne and fine whiskey on the balconies of the Commandant’s house. Gleaming white and but a football field’s length away to our left, it is the oldest building in Washington, D.C., after the British burned the rest of the city in the War of 1812.
We sat in the front row, to the right of Center Walk. Before us would march a show with all the magic of DisneyLand’s Main Street Parade, the precision of the Japanese K Computer, and the true humanity of dedication, of ceremony, of sacrifice.
I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob.
— Larry the Cucumber
I listened with joy and amazement to the cheerful piccolo piping above a band of brass and reed and percussion. I squeeled as Sgt. Chesty XIII and Pfc. Chesty XIV ambled down the aisle, the junior pup too spirited sit as directed. I held my breath as two companies, a hundred people at least, moved as one with bayonets at ready; I audibly gasped when the whirling and twirling became a dance between Inspector and soldier, weapons spinning wildly through the air only to be entirely controlled and expertly manipulated when caught. Then the cannons! How exciting!
My eyes welled and my heart was full as our great flag was lowered for the night.
Our flag would mean nothing without the soldiers of this country.
I am proud — honored — to know a few of these great mean. Among the best is our host for the night.
Noel, thank you.