Friday, September 7, 2012

When Colors Are Bold Enough to Make You Cry

The room was filled with generations of military men and women, both active duty and retired, representing all branches of uniform.  My husband and I were attending a dinner provided by the Marine Corps Association and Foundation featuring guest speaker General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  I had not known what to expect from such an event, and was amazed by the number of service members who chose to come listen to this man speak.  As everyone entered the ballroom and looked for their table numbers, the space was filled with the noisy banter of people introducing themselves to others or catching up with those whom they already knew.  I looked around the room, admiring all the smiling faces and handshakes, and began to feel that amidst all these strangers I was in fact surrounded by family.
Soon the room became quiet.  We were asked to stand while General Dempsey took his place, followed by the playing of the Colors and Star Spangled Banner by the Marine Corps Band.  I myself, as a military wife, stood quietly with my hands folded or, in the case of the National Anthem, over my heart.  But the soldiers stood at attention, eyes focused and never leaving the flag, with the utmost respect for the symbol of our great country.  As the song played, I didn’t just listen to the melody or sing the words in my head.  I thought about the words and what they mean for us.  I thought back to what I learned in History class about how hard those men fought so long ago to gain freedom for this country.  I imagined myself alongside of them, celebrating in their joy as they saw the American Flag flying high on that glorious morning.  I thought about how brave those men were, and every man and woman since then who have dedicated their lives to that flag.  I thought about my children, the nation’s children, and began tearing up as I held hope in my heart that today’s kids will know and honor our flag in the same way as those of us in that room.

General Dempsey’s speech following dinner was delightful to listen to.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from a man who is the highest ranking military officer in all of the United States Armed Forces and the military advisor to the President of the United States, but I was sure that somebody so big and so important would surely speak about something which was beyond the comprehension of a military wife like me.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  General Dempsey did not present himself in a harsh, authoritative manner, but rather connected with the audience as a fellow service member and a guy who loves to make jokes and have fun.  As I listened, I found myself viewing General Dempsey not only as a highly esteemed professional, but also as a personable family man.  I smiled at the idea of sitting around a table with him and his wife, hearing his stories and perhaps asking Mrs. Dempsey about her experiences as a military wife.  I did not have the pleasure of meeting General Dempsey that night, but I felt honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of the crowd who gathered to hear him speak.  

1 comment:

  1. I still get goosebumps and tears in my eyes when it comes to anything to do with our Flag. :)