Pomp and Circumstance at the “Oldest Post of the Corps”
One of the most visited warm weather events here in Washington takes place every Friday evening at the Marine Barracks at 8th and I Southeast. Each “Evening Parade” starts at 8:45 p.m. and lasts for 1¼ hours. Known as “8th and I” for short, the Barracks was established in 1801. Its Parades this year run from May 4th– August 24th.There is no charge for admission, and tickets and additional information can be obtained online at http://www.barracks.marines.mil/Parades/General-Information.
Each event is a resplendent expression of the Marine Corps’ dignity and pride in their 200+ year heritage. Each is a combination of music, marching and drill precision. Visitors are treated to performances by the United States Marine Band,once famously led by John Philip Sousa, the most noted military band leader of all time. Guests also see performances by the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Marine Corps Color Guard, and the Marine and Ceremonial Marchers. The Silent Drill Platoon, however, might be the audience favorite (you can find it, as well as the entire Parade, on YouTube).
In addition to the Marines performing in their finest regalia, a bulldog in uniform competes for his share of the attention each week. I happened to be in attendance last Friday night. Cpl. Chesty XIV, the official mascot of Marine Barracks Washington, threatened to steal the scene at the close of the show. Apparently the pomp was temporarily lost on his circumstance. His handler had to fairly pull the reluctant and stiff-legged marine part way down the sidewalk--to the amusement of all of us in the audience.
Thankfully, despite Chesty’s reticence that evening, the Evening Parade still today remains a worldwide symbol of the discipline, professionalism and Esprit de Corps of the U.S. Marines.