There was a ramp ceremony today, the first one that I have attended. What I was a part of was not a small affair; it was not performed as if it had been done a hundred times. It was solemn, dignified and proper. It was the most important ceremony I have ever been a part of.
It was two Marines we honored today. Marines from the unit of those we honored were in the front of the formation as we lined the ramp. Once we were formed up behind the Marines and at parade rest, I heard the following: “SQUAD, HO! CLOSE ORDER, MARCH! WHEEL, RIGHT! MARK, TIME! HAAAAAL-T!” It was the British forming up behind us; French, Dutch, Slovakians, and Canadians as well.
Back in late February I was reading a book from the HALO series, based on the video game. In it, the protagonist, the Master Chief (That’s right, the savior of the galaxy in the future is a Sailor, a member of the Chief’s Mess to boot!), is the LCPO of a team of super warriors, who are only sent on impossible missions. His inner-dialog is of him coming to terms with the difference between ‘spending’ and ‘wasting’ a life. He comes to the conclusion that if the stakes are high enough, the end goal noble enough, and the leadership wise enough, that for someone to die in a mission he sent them on is a life spent. These Marines we paid our respects to, spent their lives so that others may live and not know war as they had. I do not feel sad about this.
After the ceremony I started to think about how the remains will continue to be honored once CONUS: The escort that the Patriot Guard Riders, Warrior’s Watch, and many by other names provide as the fallen warrior’s remains make their way home. I began to think about how different it was for those who served in Vietnam and Korea. Where in Korea much was readily forgotten and the Vietnam era had a culture of ignorance and hate for all things military. Well, forget all that, it is relegated to history books and something I’ve never known personally.