Washington, D.C., and the National Memorial Day Parade

Wondering where I’ve been the past few days? I’ve been in Washington, D.C., our nations beautiful capital. The band left out early Sunday morning – formation at 7 and we departed about 7:30 and headed south. After several stops for food/fuel, we arrived at the Doubletree Hotel Bethesda in Bethesda, MD. It was a beautiful hotel. My roommate SGT CK and I were awed by our room when we entered. There were FIVE pillows on each bed. And the beds were soooooooo soft and comfy. And a FLAT SCREEN TV in the room. WOW! The bathroom was a normal hotel bathroom. LOL We had a corner room and a corner window. It wasn’t much of a view since we were overlooking city, but from the 9th floor, you sure could see for a ways. Come to find out later when I saw a diagram of the hotel, most of the rooms were corner rooms due to how the hotel was built. Soon after arriving, I changed into my running clothes and headed up to the 15th floor to check out the (according to the website) “state of the art” fitness center. Yeah, right. It had a few weight machines and a stair stepper and a bike and a treadmill. A funky looking treadmill at that. And a semi-broken one. The treadmill itself worked fine, so I was able to run, but I couldn’t tell how long I had run as the time display was burnt out on the minutes. And I couldn’t tell exactly how far I had gone as the tenths/hundredths part of the distance display didn’t work. So I quit as soon as I saw it hit 3 miles. But at least I ran some. After a shower and changing, JG and TW and I headed down to the Mexican place right next door to the hotel. That was some good food, and good conversation as well. After dinner I headed back up to my room and called Mom & Dad and then Ryan. And I watched the end of the NASCAR race and when that was done, I went to bed.

Memorial Day. A day to remember and reflect on those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. A big day for the 10th Mountain Division Band. I got up and had breakfast in the hotel lobby. $9 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was ok – I got a decent breakfast, but I don’t know if it was worth $9. I had a jelly danish, some fruit, some yogurt, scrambled eggs, 2 pancakes, some oj, and a cup of coffee. Then it was back up to my room to get into uniform and get ready to head out. We wore our ACU’s (Army Combat Uniform), as we have been doing for all the parades. It’s much nicer than marching in our Class A’s and uncomfy shoes. We all got on the bus and headed to downtown D.C. Our bus driver dropped us off, and after we all had our instruments he left and we went to our line-up area. We got warmed up and tuned and practiced what we would be doing in front of the reviewing stand which was right at the beginning of the parade. There was an Air Force 4-star General as the reviewing officer since it was also a celebration of the AF’s 60th anniversary. So we played Ruffles & Flourishes, the Army Song, and then our first march. After running through that a few times, we were released and had an hour to do whatever. Several band members volunteered to stay back and watch instruments, so that was nice.

JG and I went and walked and checked out some of the other units in the parade. I took some pictures of military vehicles for Ryan, got a short video of a guy playing the bagpipes, a picture of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building from a distance, and then we happened upon a group from the 101st Airborne Division. Gentlemen from WWII. Famous gentlemen. The men of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The men from Band of Brothers. I was awed to be able to meet some of them, and I got my picture taken with them. JG and I shook their hands after and thanked them for what they had done, and they said in return, no, thank YOU for your service. Of course, one of the guys yelled at me (not really, but jokingly). He said that he usually got hugs from pretty ladies. So I hugged him, and of course, the other 2 wanted hugs as well. I’ll share pics tomorrow – they’re still on my camera. Then we made our way back to the band area, and when everyone was back, we took a unit picture with the Capitol Building in the backgroung. I’ll share that one tomorrow too.

Then we stood around and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. I called Ryan and Robbie. I called Mom & Dad. We were finally told to line up in our spot in the street. So we got formed up. And waited. And waited. And waited. And observed the moment of silence they had at 3. The parade had started at 2, and here we were an hour later still waiting. We were unit number 159. Finally about 3:40 we started moving toward the parade start point. YAY!! oooh. Nervous. Yes, I was excited but very nervous. This was my biggest parade of my career so far. So we stepped off playing our Reviewing Stand Honors and the parade went without a hitch. Thousands of people lined Constitution Ave. and boy did we get a a big cheer and applause when we were announced – they had in our narrative that we had just returned from a year-long tour in Afghanistan. It was soooooooooo cool. It was along Constitution Ave., from 7th St. to 17th St. We went through our music not quite twice (4 marches, and then 3 repeated). We were done and getting back on the bus shortly after 4:30. It was a beautiful day, although a bit warm and muggy. But at least it didn’t rain like the forecast said it might. Oh, and THE Color Guard was in front of us. Like THE Color Guard that does the big time ceremonies in DC. Like THE Color Guard that earlier in the day had been at Arlington when the President did the wreath laying. WOW!

Then it was back to the hotel to change out of SOGGY uniforms and shower and head to dinner. JG, JN, TW, and I went to an Irish Pub that some of the band had gone to the night before. I had an excellent steak and baked potato and beer. Monday nights are Trivia Nights, so we stayed and played trivia. We didn’t win, but of the 3 band teams that had formed, we came in 2nd in the band. LOL It was a lot of fun, both hanging out with everyone and the trivia. JG, JN, and I left a little after 10 I think and headed back to our rooms. TW stuck around with the other band guys there, including our commander and First Sergeant. Most everyone had WAY too much to drink, but everyone had fun. Once I was back in my room, I called Ryan and talked to him for a while and then headed to bed.

This morning we were on the bus at 6, but we were waiting for one person and at 6:35 our commander finally showed up. Oops! I guess he had a good time Monday night. LOL So we got underway and headed home. Pretty much everyone crashed on the bus and we didn’t stop for breakfast until about 11 so it was actually lunch. At least I had a granola bar in my backpack so I had a little bit to eat. During the ride home, I stitched some and read a few magazines. And I slept some, too. We got back to the band hall a little after 3 and got our instruments put away and then were given the good news that we’re off tomorrow – “See you on Thursday at 7”. Woohoo! I headed home and changed to go run, but Ryan texted me and said he was on his way home with Robbie. His chiro adjustment was quicker than I thought, and I wanted to see my guys, so I’ll run tomorrow morning. Robbie almost bowled me over when he saw me, and of course, Ryan was glad to see me as well. Robbie and I played outside for a little while and then we walked to our local pizza place for supper. I guess I’m going grocery shopping tomorrow. After we ate, we walked to the little park area where the Farmer’s Market is and looked at the river, and just ran around for a while. Then we headed home for bedtime. After Robbie was in bed, we watched a bit of Tivo’d shows and I crocheted on a dishcloth.

Time for bed for me now. . .

Today high was 70 and low was 45.

One thought on “Washington, D.C., and the National Memorial Day Parade

  1. hello there, i just happened to run into your post here. i was in DC about a month ago and i really loved the city of memorials. it’s pretty awesome that you met the guys from band of brothers. that series is by far my most favorite. anyways, mind if i add you?

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