Why Not Start At The Top?

Why Not Start At The Top?

 

This is the third day of our attendance at the National League of MIA/POW Families annual meeting. The agenda for the previous two days has been non-stop from 8:30 a.m. until around 10:00 p.m. The meeting yesterday adjourned at 6:00 p.m., but a hundred participants (first come/first serve) were invited to attend the United States Marine Corps Evening Parade at Marine Barracks Washington (also known as 8th & I). The Honorary General mentioned that she wanted to attend the military parade. Who was I to tell her “No?” After all, she was the mother of a U.S. Marine for twenty years.

 

I asked my niece Friday morning if she was attending the military parade. She mentioned she and another board member of the League of Families had been asked to attend representing the League. We lined up as soon as the 6:00 p.m. session was complete to await the arrival of the two buses departing the hotel at 6:30. As it turned out, fewer than 100 people from our group chose to attend. I guess when “push comes to shove”, having dinner on Friday evening took precedent for most folks. Maybe we are “die-hard” U.S. Marine Corps supporters, but we were pleased with the opportunity before us.

 

A Marine Corps representative was assigned on each bus to answer questions and provide instructions. The instructions were pretty simple: “ Stay together in a group and follow me and you won’t get lost”. When the bus arrived, the line of individuals on the sidewalk waiting to enter the barracks was significant. It reminded me of the line at Fiesta Texas waiting to ride the roller coaster. The sidewalk was packed with people.

 

As we stepped off the bus, our group turned to the left and we were slowly negotiating the crowd. We were all in a straight line and making progress. At some point the line did a U-turn at the back of a line headed in the direction we had come. My niece turned to me and said, “Follow me.” She continued to move in the direction we had been walking. I attempted to protest. She responded once again, “Follow me.” The instructions we had been given, “Stay together in a group and follow me” set off alarm bells in my head. What was she trying to do, get us lost?

 

When she turned the corner to the right, I verbalized my concern once more. She responded, “It’s okay, the General said for us to follow him.” What? Apparently she and the other board member were instructed to follow the General. She pointed him out. He was a few steps in front of us. She said he knew she had her family with her. It wasn’t a problem.

 

We subsequently stopped in front of a magnificent old home. It was three stories.   The signage indicated it was the home of the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. I found out later, the grand old home had been built in 1906. A reception was being hosting in the garden area.

 

Karoni immediately denied that she had been provided any information concerning the reception. However, she didn’t seem the least bit uncomfortable standing in a line with strangers waiting to crash the pre-military parade garden party being hosted by the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Maybe she operates on the logic, “Why not start at the top?”

 

Two observations sent me wishing I could “dig a hole and crawl in it.” I noticed that reservations were being checked as individuals sought passageway through the gate. We did not have a written invitation. How does one prepare of the embarrassment of being turned away? Secondly, I looked around and there was not another man in line who was not wearing a uniform or a coat and tie. I was absolutely horrified. I was wearing a shirt with an open collar and I didn’t have a coat.

 

General Field, the General we were following, graciously took care of the details and we were permitted into the garden area. It was packed with influential folks including two Senators. Did I mention I got to shake the hands of both Senators along with the folks at the top of the leader board in military command? I felt dramatically underdressed for the occasion.

 

Consequently, I attempted to camouflage myself at the edge of the garden. I felt like a fish out of water without a coat and tie. Interestingly, I had taken both off and changed clothes during lunch after my morning workshop.

 

Despite my initial anxiety, the evening was absolutely splendid. Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. is the oldest active post in the Marine Corps. It was established by President Thomas Jefferson and Lt. Col. William War Burrows, the third commandant of the Marine Corps, in 1801. An American flag with fifteen stars still officially serves as the flag for that post.

 

The program for the evening included the Marine Band, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corp, and the Silent Drill Platoon. The performance of all three was absolutely amazing. Interestingly, most of the music played was written by John Phillip Sousa. He reportedly grew up a block and a half from 8th & I Street in Washington. Sousa became the first official Second Leader when an Act of Congress established the positions of First Leader and Second Leader of the Marine Band in March 1899.

 

The evening could not have been more perfect. By the time the performance was over, I had forgotten all about my initial anxiety of crashing a party. I’m 68 years old. It is the first party I ever knowingly crashed. My only explanation, “Why not start at the top?”

 

All My Best!

Don

 

This is the third day of our attendance at the National League of MIA/POW Families annual meeting. The agenda for the previous two days has been non-stop from 8:30 a.m. until around 10:00 p.m. The meeting yesterday adjourned at 6:00 p.m., but a hundred participants (first come/first serve) were invited to attend the United States Marine Corps Evening Parade at Marine Barracks Washington (also known as 8th & I). The Honorary General mentioned that she wanted to attend the military parade. Who was I to tell her “No?” After all, she was the mother of a U.S. Marine for twenty years.

 

I asked my niece Friday morning if she was attending the military parade. She mentioned she and another board member of the League of Families had been asked to attend representing the League. We lined up as soon as the 6:00 p.m. session was complete to await the arrival of the two buses departing the hotel at 6:30. As it turned out, fewer than 100 people from our group chose to attend. I guess when “push comes to shove”, having dinner on Friday evening took precedent for most folks. Maybe we are “die-hard” U.S. Marine Corps supporters, but we were pleased with the opportunity before us.

 

A Marine Corps representative was assigned on each bus to answer questions and provide instructions. The instructions were pretty simple: “ Stay together in a group and follow me and you won’t get lost”. When the bus arrived, the line of individuals on the sidewalk waiting to enter the barracks was significant. It reminded me of the line at Fiesta Texas waiting to ride the roller coaster. The sidewalk was packed with people.

 

As we stepped off the bus, our group turned to the left and we were slowly negotiating the crowd. We were all in a straight line and making progress. At some point the line did a U-turn at the back of a line headed in the direction we had come. My niece turned to me and said, “Follow me.” She continued to move in the direction we had been walking. I attempted to protest. She responded once again, “Follow me.” The instructions we had been given, “Stay together in a group and follow me” set off alarm bells in my head. What was she trying to do, get us lost?

 

When she turned the corner to the right, I verbalized my concern once more. She responded, “It’s okay, the General said for us to follow him.” What? Apparently she and the other board member were instructed to follow the General. She pointed him out. He was a few steps in front of us. She said he knew she had her family with her. It wasn’t a problem.

 

We subsequently stopped in front of a magnificent old home. It was three stories.   The signage indicated it was the home of the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. I found out later, the grand old home had been built in 1906. A reception was being hosting in the garden area.

 

Karoni immediately denied that she had been provided any information concerning the reception. However, she didn’t seem the least bit uncomfortable standing in a line with strangers waiting to crash the pre-military parade garden party being hosted by the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Maybe she operates on the logic, “Why not start at the top?”

 

Two observations sent me wishing I could “dig a hole and crawl in it.” I noticed that reservations were being checked as individuals sought passageway through the gate. We did not have a written invitation. How does one prepare of the embarrassment of being turned away? Secondly, I looked around and there was not another man in line who was not wearing a uniform or a coat and tie. I was absolutely horrified. I was wearing a shirt with an open collar and I didn’t have a coat.

 

General Field, the General we were following, graciously took care of the details and we were permitted into the garden area. It was packed with influential folks including two Senators. Did I mention I got to shake the hands of both Senators along with the folks at the top of the leader board in military command? I felt dramatically underdressed for the occasion.

 

Consequently, I attempted to camouflage myself at the edge of the garden. I felt like a fish out of water without a coat and tie. Interestingly, I had taken both off and changed clothes during lunch after my morning workshop.

 

Despite my initial anxiety, the evening was absolutely splendid. Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. is the oldest active post in the Marine Corps. It was established by President Thomas Jefferson and Lt. Col. William War Burrows, the third commandant of the Marine Corps, in 1801. An American flag with fifteen stars still officially serves as the flag for that post.

 

The program for the evening included the Marine Band, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corp, and the Silent Drill Platoon. The performance of all three was absolutely amazing. Interestingly, most of the music played was written by John Phillip Sousa. He reportedly grew up a block and a half from 8th & I Street in Washington. Sousa became the first official Second Leader when an Act of Congress established the positions of First Leader and Second Leader of the Marine Band in March 1899.

 

The evening could not have been more perfect. By the time the performance was over, I had forgotten all about my initial anxiety of crashing a party. I’m 68 years old. It is the first party I ever knowingly crashed. My only explanation, “Why not start at the top?”

 

All My Best!

Don

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