So, There we stood, waiting in a cold mist for the next earth moving command
to be given. Without warning the booming voice of our sergeant major brought
our meaningless mass together. We became a solid block. Twenty five hundred
men became an imposing figure. We were at attention. The battalion commander
appeared and marched to the center of the parade grounds. The commander was
himself an imposing figure. He was taller than any of us, and carried
himself the way his West Point Credentials required. He was a full bird
colonel. The emblems glittered on his shoulders as he viewed us as if
inspecting the most powerful group of warriors ever seen on this planet. To
a man we were taken by our leaders presence.
Our sergeant turned a sharp about face and reported to the colonel, “all
present and accounted for as ordered sir,” he bellowed and saluted
simultaneously. The colonel returned his salute, and the sergeant moved to a
side position, taking his place and becoming one of us. Again the colonel
did his review. His eyes inspected all of us with an amazing display of
pride. At a precise moment the sergeant was again in front of our body. He
shouted “parade rest” and as one unit we snapped into position. The
sergeant again moved aside and our colonel took charge. The man¹s presence
was nothing short of inspiring. All was still as the colonel prepared to
speak. Then it came: “Men, you are about to experience what only a very
select group have ever had the privilege of experiencing.”
At that moment the battalion color guard appeared. To the beat of a single
drum they marched into position on the parade grounds. If you can visualize
the configuration of a football field; place the color guard at one end of
the field. The colonel would be directly behind the guard. Next to enter was
the Fort Lewis Army marching band. They took their position directly behind
the color guard and in front of the colonel, and our (twenty-five
hundred-man) battalion.
 “Today you will be representing your country, the United States of America.
Are you ready?”
As one we responded with “yes sir!”
“Then give them hell men!” He shouted.
The chills came in waves. What might seem cornball was anything but. The
band struck up with John Philip SousesWashington Post March, and at the
precise moment the colonel bellowed again, “Give them hell men.” He turned
and signaled as if he was conducting a cavalry charge. We marched as one.
And then the final emotional wave, which has remained with me all of my
life. I caught sight of our American flag leading our way. To date my chest
has never expanded as much as it did on that very chilly day. We weren’t the
same group of young boys messing around as we did before the parade.
The next day we all returned to kidding around and still playing our
schoolboy tricks on one another. But as this day wore down there were
conversations about some unexpected feelings. For me personally, I never
totally shared up until now what a life changing experience it was.
For those of you who have visited with me on Sparks Ave. in Burbank, you
will recall our flag flying proudly in front of our studio doors. It¹s there
every day that I¹m there.
This coming Friday, November 10, we pay tribute to our veterans. I pray you
share my pride.
Today, I repeat the words, I remain proud to say I am a veteran. I MAY BE A

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