Guest Column: Time to break from tradition
St Augustine, FL
It is not quite 10:00 am, and the sun has been warming a spot just for you. “Hurry up and wait” has been the order of the day. An hour spent just waiting for all the color guards to arrive and take their place in line. Some stand in their assigned spot, others, mostly elder veterans, lay their colors on the hedge lining the walkway and retire to the shade.
If you have ever been a member of a color guard, you know the routine and you know the hazards. While you stand and wait for the ceremonies to wind their way through the program, blood continues to settle in the lower extremities and the heart is hard-pressed to keep it flowing upwards to the brain.
Older vets remember to keep the knees unlocked or shift weight from one leg to the other. The younger set has not learned that lesson yet and are about to experience the ultimate; falling facedown from lack of blood flow to the brain.
Sitting in the audience is no cakewalk either, especially if you are in the middle. The nice breeze that was wafting through earlier is now the enjoyment of those sitting on the edges and very little gets to you.
So, this year, in an effort to beat the heat of the day, the Ancient City Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, has changed the time for their annual “Massing of the Colors” at the St Augustine National Cemetery.
“For years we have had the ceremony begin at what some call the decent hour of 10:00 a.m.,” according to George McCrae, a retired Army Chief Warrant Officer. “This year we want to change that; due to the stress and strain put on participants and audience as well.”
The rational for the break from tradition is simple. The morning St Augustine heat takes its toll; especially on our older veterans who feel duty-bound to pay their respects.
“This is Florida, it is May and the temperature builds early,” McCrae continued. “The temperature may be in the 80’s — but where our color guards stand, the temperature is 10 – 15 degrees hotter.”
Michael Isam is a St Augustine Veterans Affairs writer and moderator at “Veteran News with Michael Isam” as well as “Veterans Corner with Michael Isam”. He is a multi-media journalist, co-host at “Wings with Angel and Brian” and serves as minister, secretary, and ministerial coordinator at New Horizons of Universal Love Church. Isam graduated from Flagler College with a Bachelor of Communications degree in 2011.