Musings of the Chronologically Challenged™ Fourth Generation
Saturday, July 05, 2003
If the Today's unusually high number of site meter hits were from visitors hoping to read about the annual 4th of July Celebration at Camp Lejeune yesterday, I do hope they will check back. Belatedly, here it is.
The beautiful, blue Carolina sky dawned July 4th with just enough fluffy clouds in the sky to appear to be faces smiling down on the spectacular coast of North Carolina -- home of Camp Lejeune and the United States Marines and Sailors. What a perfect and well-deserved welcome home to military personnel who have been returning for the last several days.
The annual affair is always family-oriented, but this year it was more so. It was Family Reunion day. Children kept touching their daddies, as if to hold on to them and not let them get away again. Last year the crowd was impressive. I had never seen so many people together at one place, other than at a football game. This year it was astounding and outstanding in the palpable love among the people - military and civilian. A real emotion-charged day for all.
A FDNY engine and more than 100 New York firemen were present. The Assistant Fire Chief ceremoniously presented an I-beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center to Camp Lejeune for a permanent memorial. He said that Camp Lejeune and NYC would be the only places where WTC wreckage would become part of a memorial for New York City Firemen and Camp Lejeune Marines. He shared a moving personal vignette telling that a large percentage of NY City Firemen were previous Marines. And of those, a large number had been stationed at Camp Lejeune, including himself in 1963.
A preview was published July 3 on The Globe site which was quite accurate, other than emphasizing the tremendous size of the assemblage.
"Pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center, an I-beam recently began its journey through six states to the base from Manhattan. New York City Fire Department chaplain blessed the beam and more than 100 New York firefighters are accompanying it. The department is presenting the 9-11 “icon” to the Marine Corps Base and II Marine Expeditionary Force commanding generals during scheduled July 4th celebrations Friday at W.P.T. Hill Field." See the entire article here.
Watching the five Marines re-enacting the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, I thought how proud they must be. To be chosen as stand-ins for those heroic and famous Marines on Mount Surabachi will be something to tell for the rest of their lives. Plenty of bragging rights there. The Marine Band Concert was highlighted again this year by the 1812 Overture, accompanied by live cannon fire, culminating with the fireworks exhibition.
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!