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Marine Barracks Washington Friday Evening Parade
A summer tradition since 1957 is free and open to the public
The long quadrangle in the middle of the oldest Marine post in America was dark on Friday evening.
Thunderstorms and lightning had come through D.C. just hours before, but the viewing seats were dry. Marine Gold Star families were seated in front.
Read about The Marine Corps Tuesday Sunset Parade at Iwo Jima in my story earlier this summer.
On one end of the axis, the lights were on in the windows of the Marine Commandant's home. An American flag with 15 stars and stripes flew above in the center of the green parade deck.
At 8:15 p.m, a spotlight under the brick barracks showed the Commandant, General David H. Berger, and his wife walking to the viewing stands.
The red-uniformed band appeared and began to play (see the video at the top.) The Marine Barracks Washington traditional Friday evening parade started.
The Marine Barracks Washington on 8th and I Streets, Southeast was established in 1801 and has since been the residence for the Commandant. Every Friday night in the summer since 1957, the Marines put on a glorious parade that is free and open to the public.
There are two bands that play traditional American music – "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band and "The Commandant's Own" Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performed their perfectly synchronized marches while flipping around M1 Garand with a bayonet that weighs 12.6 pounds. I love watching them, so here are two videos of them:
The Marine Corps Color Guard marched past as everyone stood. Each ribbon you see hanging from the Marine flag is from an operation they’ve fought through our nation’s history.
At the very end of the hour and 15-minute parade, a Marine in a red uniform appeared on the roof of the barracks and played a moving “Taps” for the fallen. The Commandant had spent time with the Gold Star families at a reception before the parade.
A real bulldog, Pvt. Chesty XVI, who is the official mascot of Marine Barracks Washington had the longest line of people wanting to take photos after the parade than any human at the base.
All the years I’ve lived in D.C., I’ve heard many times about the Friday parade but never been until now. It was a joyful and emotional event with history all around us and the polite and helpful Marines in dress uniforms representing the best of America.
I hope next time you visit Washington, D.C. in the summer, you make the time to go to this wonderful tradition. It’s easy to make a reservation at the Washington Marine Barracks website.