Sparing you the details of my day, which involved a pre-dawn arrival time, and probably a lot of security-related things I can't talk about on the blog (Secret Service was doing their thing), suffice to say that I was there all day getting this and that ready. It was the first real hot day we'd had yet. I can handle the heat so long as I have water. I lost count of how many bottles of water I had, but my memory is of drinking around two gallons of water throughout the day. I had a huge stash under my seat for the longer-than-usual ceremony; volunteers distributed water to the crowd. That didn't stop people from going down with heat exhaustion by the end. The medical tent looked more like a field hospital by the end of the event.
I had two jobs during the event. One was to escort Vietnam service organizations to the wall to lay their wreaths. The second was to escort a special guest and hand her off to the President. I had to sit carefully in my chair, surrounded by 3- and 4-star generals, in a windless spot, under a relentless sun, in D.C. humidity, next to a wall that radiates solar energy, to avoid getting huge sweat spots on my uniform. After the president spoke (see video below), I escorted the special guest for the second wreath laying, handed her off to a Marine, who escorted her to the President. They did their thing at the wall, and then three overflights buzzed the memorial: vintage helicopters, a C-130, and a B-52. Despite all the speakers, the B-52 ranked right up there in its awesomeitude - I mean, check out the unforgettable sound a B-52 makes.
Here's the video:
Not everything went as planned, but it went well enough. Hey, Tom Selleck even said "Good morning" to me, so it all worked out. Moustache and everything! And I got to hear The President's Own Marine Corps Band play "Hail to the Chief" in person. It was kind of like watching the West Wing, except it was real.