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Field Of Flowers.
Once, during the few months that I was a Staff Sergeant with B Troop, 1/9 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, I was assigned to the rotating duty of Non Commissioned Officer In Charge of Squadron color party. The color party consists of a senior man, who carries the national colors (flag), (me), a junior man who carries the squadron colors with battle decorations, and two others, the color guards. I had actually been looking forward to this duty because I was proud of my country and my unit. Things had been going extra-ordinarily well for me, and I was just in a good mood. This was a Friday, the only day of the week when we had a real squadron formation with the flags.
Things started going wrong when we were not dismissed after the squadron formation. Instead, the Squadron Sergeant Major, Al ĎBig Thumbí Hayes, marched us out on to the road behind the barracks and turned us towards ĎMain Postí. Fort Hood has no real obstructions to construction, like hills or creeks, so the roads had a tendency to run straight for miles. This particular road ran more than 5 miles past the barracks of the 1st Cavalry and the 2nd Armored Division. I had no idea where we were going but I was in distress early. When marching with Ďcolorsí they are actually supported by a socket attached to a leather harness that goes over the shoulders, but they have to be kept upright at all times and the national colors always have to be higher than the unit colors. Iím almost 6 feet tall and the sergeant who was carrying the squadron colors was at least an inch shorter, but he had a longer shaft. (Donít even think about it!) So I had to maintain a pretty uncomfortable posture.
After a lot of marching and dithering we ended up at the division football stadium. I hadnít even known that we had one before that. (It was used for a lot of other things as well.)
It was one of the most unexpected and unusual things I had ever seen when we finally marched inside. The entire 1st Cavalry Division was on parade except for watch standers. And all of the units were wearing berets in their branch colors. It looked like an enormous field of flowers because all that could be seen of most people was the beret. Major General Julius Becton was the division commander at the time, and I liked the way he did things, but he was adamant about the esprit of the unit, and this was one of the ways that he chose to show us that we were all for one and one for all, to coin a phrase.
It has been so long that I canít remember all the colors, but armor wore black, military police wore pink, infantry wore light blue and there were a lot of people there wearing yellow. Iím sorry that I canít remember who they were. It wasnít different units but different branches or military occupational specialties. I have to admit that there were a few dark blue stetsons (cowboy hats), worn by Air Cav officers, but someone else must have loved us for buying all those berets.
Personally, I have skin that is very sensitive to the sun and a stetson would have been nice. I had a really odd tan line on my face for some time after leaving the 1st Cav, from wearing a beret so much, but even a steel pot, or the new Kevlar model didnít keep my face out of the sun enough to suit me. I actually got sun poisoning at MCB 29 Palms California once, even though I never went outside without what I thought was proper protective covering.
Anyway, at the end of the ceremony, or whatever it was, I had to carry that flag back to squadron headquarters. I donít want anyone to misunderstand. I am proud of that flag and would have gladly died for it, but it sure is heavy. Maybe because of all of the people that HAVE died protecting it and our way of life. Our way may not prove, in the end, to be the ideal way of life, but the results of the test are still out, and I think that there are a lot of people in this country that feel the same way I do, and the same way that their ancestors did when this country was started. This is our country now. We wonít give it up and we wonít give up. There are a lot of other countries that donít like us, and some have very good reasons, but we do the best that we can.
We are only people and not infallible.
My thanks yet again to Rory.
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