He stands on a parade ground, reviewing block after block of blue uniforms filing past. The band is playing “Wild Blue Yonder,” flags are flapping, salutes jerk in robotic unison. He is at his official peak. As the new commander of Air Weather Service, our father is making his snippet of history. From the grandstand draped in red, white, and blue, my sister and I try to keep our squirming children in their seats, convinced that once out of sight the marchers are double-timing back to the starting line for another round.
The brim of his hat shadows the upper half of his face. The lower half isn’t smiling. His chin juts forward as befits this occasion of high seriousness. It is a time to show uncompromising strength. A time if there ever was one when the code we have lived by applies: feelings under wraps and mouths shut outside the family.