Today I walked aimlessly through the streets of New York City. I had an appointment and the other party forgot, or just stood me up, who knows which. Since the bus fare was recently raised to $8.50 for a round trip into the city, I thought what a waste it would be to just go right back home. I wandered to Macy’s to see if the swimsuit I wanted was on sale yet. Nope. I wandered past Tiffany’s, I don’t know why, it’s just so pretty and sparkly. I sat on a park bench and pulled out my laminated map of the city streets and subways (I never leave home without it), looking for someplace I might want to go. Unfortunately nothing really struck me. So I wandered back to the bus station.
I took my time, avoiding the crowded stuffy subways, and walked up town towards Port Authority, when I heard a drum roll from only a few feet away. I turned my head and saw the beginning of a parade, when it suddenly dawned on me...it’s Flag Day! And what luck, I ended up at the very beginning of the processional with an unobstructed view. The snare drum counted off to 4, setting the beat for the uniformed men and women who were carrying the colors to march in rhythm. Badadada Dum! Dum! Dum, dum, dum. I watched the Marine Color Guard, followed by the Navy, then Air Force, then Army. I watched rows of children in matching red, white, and blue t-shirts waiving their flags and skipping along behind the military. The parade processional was short, but high spirited and serious about their duty. After the final child trotted past, I turned to continue on my path.
Suddenly, now about a block away, I heard the distinct sound of bagpipes. A few seconds later, I was able to make out the tune they played, “The Army Goes Rolling Along.” I took a step forward, hesitated for a moment, then halted. I put my arms at my side with my hands in a fist. My feet made a “V” with heels touching. I stood at attention, semi-mouthing a word or two until the final note rang out. The parade was now far in the distance. No one noticed as I broke my rigid stance and carried on my way. In an aimless city, on my aimless way, I found something to lock onto, if only for a few moments.