As we completed our annual shareholders meeting and I joined our senior leadership on the 12th floor patio of our JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Washington, 16 flights of WWII war birds flew by. They included P51’s, B24’s, B17’s, a B29, a Catalina Flying Boat and several navy fighters. It was a wonderful sight, and the rumble of those big radial engines was the best part for me. It took an hour for them all to fly by.
Then at 8pm that evening, I attended the Marine Corps retreat, which I consider the best show in town. I was accompanied by my wife, Donna, daughter Debbie and her husband Ron, daughter-in-law, Angie, my assistant, Phyllis, and three wonderful grandchildren ages 5 – 13.
The retreat is held every Friday night in the spring, summer and fall at the Marine Corps Barracks at 8th & Eye Streets in Washington. The location of these historic barracks was selected in the early 1800’s by Thomas Jefferson on his horse. The barracks is the oldest Marine Corps post in our nation. Overlooking the parade grounds (or deck as the Marines call it) is the historic and stately home of the commandant of the Corps. As the sun goes down, the drum roll begins and the full Marine Corps band marches smartly onto the field.
The band played several John Phillip Sousa marches including Stars & Stripes Forever and The King Cotton March. Sousa was leader of the Marine Band for several years in the late 1800’s and wrote many of our favorite marches earning the title of “March King.”
Soon the Drum & Bugle Corps came on one field and played ever more stirring marches. There was an impressive performance of the drill team prompting my 5-year-old grandson to report later to his mother, “Mom, how can the Marines march and throw their rifles in the air at the same time?”
Next, the Marines stationed at the barracks passed in review. The reviewing officer was the commandant, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., who was recently nominated to be the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff. His special guest was Senator John McCain from Arizona. More music from the band and Drum & Bugle Corps completed this terrific evening. As we prepared to leave, the lights were dimmed and the flag was lowered and a spotlight shown on a single bugler playing taps on the roof of the barracks. For my family, it was the most memorable day to celebrate the 70th anniversary of VE Day – Victory in Europe Day.
This Memorial Day, I am so grateful to live under the Stars & Stripes and remember those brave men and women who have served and died to keep America free.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.