Indigo Insights

Friday, July 05, 2002

Any Fourth of July celebration/festivity I’ve ever attended in my life (never mind how many that is!!) pale by comparison to the events held each 4th of July at the Camp LeJeune Marine Base. What makes that one so special, you ask? The United States Marine Corps, of course!!!

The one yesterday was somewhat more inconvenient to civilian visitors than previous years, but that was expected. The long lines of vehicles waiting for registration and license checks was something new; however, Marines at the gates were extremely polite and efficient and everything went smoothly. The fact that they were armed to the teeth may have facilitated admission too! That was also a first.

I have no idea how large the parade ground is. “Several football fields” comes to mind. Whatever the size, it was filled with spectators – estimated as “tens of thousands”. (Wild guess – maybe 50 – 60)

The Piece de Resistance, as always, was the Grand Finale. As the sun set, the Marine Corps Band began a fantastic concert. No toes could remain still! This segment was highlighted by The Marine Corps Hymn, with a moving recitation and re-enactment of the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi. Every Marine, active and veteran, on the parade ground stood at attention. Military marches and classical selections concluded (perfectly timed with darkness) with the 1812 Overture. The cannons punctuating the Overture were real cannons, actually fired for the performance. These were lined up approximately half a football field away from spectators, so the fire from the ends of the cannons was clearly visible and the noise was deafening.

As the last notes of the 1812 Overture faded with the reverberations of cannons, again synchronized to the second, the fireworks exhibition began. The length and intensity of this display made “awesome” an inadequate adjective.

God Bless America!