Saturday, September 30, 2006

Esprit de Corps

We went to the Rice/Army game at West Point today, and got there early enough to see the cadets march at the parade grounds. When the band struck up the Washington Post and the marchers entered through several gates I have to say my eyes teared up and I nearly lost it.

Mourning for those lost in Iraq of course, and the soon to be lost. For those relatives in the military cemeteries in Marietta. Still thinking about Viet Nam, because the class of 1961 was honored, and of course that was their war. Everybody gets a war.

I also mourned for my lost youth. I remember finding a military song book among my uncles World War II relics. I couldn't wait to get home to play the songs on the piano. All the verses were there, too. I used to come home after school and play and sing really loud. "And those caissons, keep rolling along."

My mom was never home after school. Out playing bridge or at a women's club meeting. I liked that just fine. I could play the piano as loud as I liked and sing in my "can't carry a tune in a bucket" monotone. I like that person I used to be. She was pretty cool.

When I came home after school, delightfully alone, I changed clothes, did exercises to increase the size of my calves (bird legs!), fixed what I wanted to eat, practiced some dance steps, and practiced the piano. Never watched TV. Sometimes I would go into the back yard and climb a big maple tree and sit there for hours. Pet the cat. Pet the neighbor's cat. Do the ironing, except my Dad's shirts which my mom did. I was a pretty good kid, and although I could never see it then, I do now, and I mourn for that kid, too.

The cadet corps is gung ho and a whole bunch of them practiced push ups when Army scored. The campus is beautiful, with gray stone buildings and lots of trees. We ate a fine lunch in a building along the river and the dining room looked out over the Hudson and to the hills across the the river and into the trees. Hmmmm. I did not see one fat cadet. We climbed the hill to the stadium, and got in the day's workout.

Rice won, their first win. Must have been all the yelling and screaming we did to make up a little bit for the racket the cadets made. We didn't even come close. In the old days when Rice played in the Southwest conference, girls I knew dated cadets at Texas A & M. Like the army cadets, the aggies stood for the whole game. And their dates did, too, some of them in high heels. That looked to be the case today, too, minus maybe the heels.
Gives more meaning to the phrase "suck it up."


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