Friday, May 30, 2008

From my Colonel ............................................

The following story is told by a foreign diplomat who, as he explains, had
occasion to visit the United States Embassy in the capital of his country.
'I arrived at a quarter to six, after official office hours, and was met
by the Marine on guard at the entrance of the Chancery.

He asked if I would mind waiting while he lowered the two American flags
at the Embassy. What I witnessed over the next ten minutes so impressed me
that I am now led to make this occurrence a part of my ongoing record of
this distressing era.

The Marine was dressed in a uniform which was spotless and neat; he
walked with a measured tread from the entrance of the Chancery to the
stainless steel flagpole before the Embassy and, almost reverently, lowered
the flag to the level of his reach where he began to fold it in military
fashion. He then released the flag from the clasps attaching it to the rope,
stepped back from the pole, made an about-face, and carried the flag between
his hands--one above, one below--and placed it securely on a stand before
the Chancery.

He then marched over to a second flagpole and repeated the same lonesome
ceremony.... After completing his task, he apologized for the delay--out of
pure courtesy, as nothing less than incapacity would have prevented him from
fulfilling his goal--and said to me, "Thank you for waiting, Sir. I had to
pay honor to my country."

I have had to tell this story because there was something impressive
about a lone Marine carrying out a ceremonial task which obviously meant
very much to him and which, in its simplicity, made the might, the power and
the glory of the United States of America stand forth in a way that a mighty
wave of military aircraft, or the passage of a supercarrier, or a parade of
10,000 men could never have made manifest.

One day it is my hope to visit one of our embassies in a faraway place
and to see a soldier fold our flag and turn to a stranger and say, "I am
sorry for the delay, Sir. I had to honor my country."


lainy said...

I loved this story, the honor in it makes me proud.

I've tried to leave comments but can't and am not sure why. Most likely it's my computer.

MK said...

here here lainy, nice post DM.