Our military forces are filled with customs, traditions, and special remembrances that the general public is not aware of. A current tradition at the Pentagon, instituted several years ago, is full of dignity and respect for our wounded warriors.
I don’t know how many of you are aware of the special goings-on at the Pentagon, but it would do us proud to realize that a little-known ceremony fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause, and many, many tears every Friday morning.
Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman tells us: “It is 110 yards from the E ring to the A ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians. There are thousands here.
“This hallway, more than any other, is the ‘Army’ hallway… Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz… Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center… The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.
“10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring… A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating…
“There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband’s wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear, is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son’s behalf. No man in that hallway, walking, or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past…
“Broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.”
To know that our wounded warriors are honored by their fellow service men and women after they’ve sacrificed so much for our freedom, makes Americans speak with pride of their honor among us.
Kitty Maiden is a staff writer for Seniors Today.