The Diary of a Nobody – Memorial Day, 2018

Meet Sparrow, an average man passing an average life…

Monday, May 28
You hate to take excellence for granted – and we don’t, an appropriate amount of work goes into our Memorial Day ceremony – but we had another good one today.

We met at the VFW about 0800 or so for coffee and donuts and general camaraderie and headed up for rehearsal about 0900…I am pleased to report my navy dress blues fit better than last year, maybe a bit too better because I could have used some suspenders because the bell bottoms – which I maintain is still a hell of a look – slipped down from time to time.

Rick, a soldier who was the in the Old Guard, our Army’s ceremonial unit, during the Revolution, and I used the bar as a dressing room while the troops mustered in the back room, where the pool tables are…Rick is the Sergeant of the Guard during the changing of the guard ceremony we do, where Robert, another old soldier, relieves me from my duty of guarding the monument…It was exactly like sports officials changing in the locker room before a game…We had uniforms to prepare and put on Rick takes much longer than me to dress…The Navy crackerjacks are easy to put on…There are pants and the jumper top and that is about it…Rick had pants and his shoes had those clicky things that tap when you walk, plus suspenders and a dress shirt with tie and his tunic.

Robert and I are the sentries. (He comes dressed and has no need to change)…I am standing watch over the cemetery’s veteran’s monument and he relieves me at the end of the ceremony…It’s not as profound as the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, but it is still rather precise and very respectful…Or as precise as I am able to make it…I am not Mr Close Order Drill.  

When Rick turns around to address the crowd to tell them what is about to happen and to request they stand and maintain silence Robert and I move out to our positions and we do a pretty good job of doing it at the exact same time…Then Rick marches to Robert and inspects him and then we all march towards the flagpole…For those of you keeping score at home, this has us marching towards each other…We then do a couple of half-faces to the flagpole and Rick issues some commands and the rifle squad fires three volleys and I bark to Robert that post and orders remain as directed and then we march to our new posts…This involves us halting our march and facing and coming to attention at the same time, difficult when our backs to each other and which we manage to pull off with some degree of precision…This is because Hal, part of the flag detail who is standing a bit off to my left, gives me orders right when Robert is executing these things.

After rehearsal, we had some to kill before the ceremony and that time was killed in the same ways we killed it when we were in service to our country: telling lies, smoking and taking leaks in non-traditional places…Christina, Doc and I ended up milling about in the shade…Actually, Christina is very pregnant (it’s a boy!) and she was sitting on a chair she found somewhere…We were talking about nothing in particular when Doc asks if us if we would like some water…It’s kinda of warm out and nobody needs to be passing out from dehydration…Christina takes Doc up on his offer but I say no…Doc counsels hydration, but I note that at our ages you’re just going to have to use the can in short enough order anyway…Then Doc set me up for a pretty good line…It might be a Line of the Year candidate:

Doc: Well, you don’t wanna pass out.
Sparrow: It’s better than wetting your pants.

Again, probably a Line of the Year candidate and it got the laffs – or, at least, chuckles – my crappy lines usually get, and not just because I’m Post Commander…They laughed because it was (moderately) funny. 

Shortly thereafter what was probably a daughter wheeling her father to their seats passed us…The gentleman was wearing a red Marine Corps hat and he saw me in my dress blues as he rolled past and was so moved he issued me a hand salute….Crap, I wasn’t expecting that but I popped to and returned it with a salute that would have caused Chesty Puller to achieve and maintain a state of arousal and added the appropriate military greeting:

Good morning, Sir.

Before we headed out to the cemetery I gathered the troops around…I told them their commander wanted a minute of their time…I told them this was my last Memorial Day ceremony as commander and I wanted to thank them for the dedication and diligence everyone has shown over the years and that we should all be justifiably proud of the results…All true enough…Then we headed out…My final ceremony as commander went very well.

Sparrow’s Sleep Log: 1400 Monday until 1900 Monday…The usual few hours when I can get them whenever there is something to do in the afternoon…And, actually, I set the alarm for 1900…There is simply no substitute for planning ahead in this department when you keep odd hours…If I had slept till right before I needed to go to work I would have had trouble falling asleep Tuesday morning and I have the retailer Tuesday night and then a refreshing graveyard shift at Hotel B…It was best to get only a few hours today, so I set the alarm…Five hours is enough to be fully functional.

The Diary of a Nobody is a novel. All elements are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Anything else is a coincidence.

The Diary of a Nobody was inspired by the 19th century British novel of the same name.

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