WASHINGTON — U.S. Marines stationed at Marine Barracks Washington ended this week’s Friday night Evening Parade in celebratory agreement, observing that “This one was really something,” even with it being the 57th identical performance in a row.
Evening Parades have been a tradition performed in front of the Commandant’s House at Marine Barracks Washington since 1934, when Col. Emile P. Moses and Maj. Lemuel C. Shepherd noted the beautiful symmetry of the parade deck and decided a performance of drill, music and showmanship was a perfect way to waste everyone’s goddamn time for the next 84 years.
Performed every Friday night in the summer months from May to August—rain or shine—the parades are a great way to involve the surrounding community and show military retirees and professional young women looking for a meal ticket what truly makes the Marine Corps special.
The show includes performances by the United States Marine Corps Band, “The Commandant’s Own” Drum and Bugle Corps (definitely not the same thing as the band), the Silent Drill Platoon, and a special runway appearance by the official Marine Corps mascot, an English Bulldog named Chesty Puller XIV. Extra special guests can be seen in attendance throughout the season including former President Barack Obama, Medal of Honor Recipient Kyle Carpenter, and that drunk frat boy from Georgetown University who almost joined the Marines once and won’t shut up about it.
Capt. Bernard Saint-Jones, Silent Drill Platoon Commander, expressed his keen fondness for this particular parade.
“It seems like all the practice we’ve been doing this year has really paid off,” he said. “To think—just a few years ago I was leading a platoon of seasoned infantrymen into Sangin, and now I get to spend my days watching a squad of lance corporals straight out of bootcamp flip some old rifles around.”
“What better way to spend every Friday night?”
He’s not alone. All the Marines there value the storied positions they hold at the oldest post in the Corps.
“Tonight I really feel like I’m a part of the Marine Corps tradition,” said Sgt. Craig Shaw, a lead soprano bugler for the Drum and Bugle Corps. “I mean—not the fighting tradition. I’ve been here my whole career and I’ll never deploy. I mean the tradition where we all ‘stand around in formation and blow into a horn kind-of tradition.’”
When the season comes to a close in August, though, don’t think everyone is ready to take a break. “We have to start preparing for next year,” explained Drum Corps Commanding Officer and Director, Maj. Jacob Black, “I think we’ll select Ode to Joy again. That one’s always a crowd-pleaser.”