Patriotism was soaked to the undies on Tuesday as hundreds of VIPs in cushioned chairs and hundreds more seated on blankets or standing at attention braved the rain to line the lush green field at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arilngton, Va.It was the Marine Corps Sunset Parade, a glorious public pageant of music, colors and military precision that takes place every Tuesday during the summer.
It wasn’t raining the whole time. It started slowly then stayed steady for about 20 minutes as umbrellas popped up all around. After 10 minutes everyone was totally drenched.
A man in his work clothes — a white shirt, tie and gray pants — stood on his family’s quilted picnic blanket, his hands at his side, fingers curled, a steady stream of raindrops slipping off the end of his nose and earlobes. Clearly, a Marine.
And another guy, long hair, shorts, T-shirt, same thing. Clearly, a Marine.
And the rain kept coming and no one moved as the band played a retro medley of 1960s tunes like Age of Aquarius and Hair. The guest of honor, Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, the delegate from Guam, stuck it out like a champ in her spiffy white pants suit and coiffed hair, unfazed.
Only then did the announcer elegantly conclude the ceremony and people scrambled off the field, looking for shelter that wasn’t there. Children cried, women’s shoes came off and men did what they could to shelter their families with their arms… their wet arms.
Everyone fled but the Marines on the field. They concluded the ceremony in their own way, as they would have if the sun had been shining brightly.
I can’t wait to go again.