Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Sergeant Baxter’s Big Day
We took the kids to the Embassy this weekend to take part in a ceremony they likely wouldn’t see in the States.
Sergeant Baxter, one of the Marines responsible for guarding the Embassy, was getting promoted to Staff Sergeant, which is a very big deal for an enlisted Marine. Two higher-ups flew in from Bangkok to promote him, and all of the Marines turned out.
It was a short ceremony, very simple. All of the kids stood quietly and watched as the Marines stood in formation and Sergeant Baxter became a Staff Sergeant. After the ceremony, the kids all shook his hand and congratulated him. Then they played basketball and soccer in the Embassy gym while the adults stood in line to congratulate the new Staff Sergeant.
Sometimes, at events such as this, you feel the weight of what it means to be an American. America is so young still, in comparison with the other countries in which we’ve lived and served. But what we have, well – it’s amazing. It’s easy to take it all for granted, back home in the States, where we can say what we want, worship where we want, do what we want to do, without undue interference from the government. It’s easy to forget that these freedoms were won for us at great cost. It’s easy to forget that many other countries around the world don’t guarantee such rights to their citizens. But there, in the company of diplomats and Marines, I remembered. Because every one of the people in that gym has devoted his life to protecting and defending our country, often at great personal cost.
Folks back home, hang on to this knowledge. Lots of us – myself included - complain about certain aspects of our government. But the government is made up of people. And from what I can tell, from the people I saw gathered in that Embassy gymnasium in Beijing, we’re in good hands.
There we were: a whole group of patriotic Americans, all choosing to live in China, each serving America as best he can, gathered together despite differences in politics, religion and education, to celebrate the promotion of one hard-working Marine.
Congratulations, Staff Sergeant Baxter.
(And for those of you who know us in real life: Sunday was the ten-year anniversary of the day Bart and the Marines had to take some very decisive action against an Embassy intruder at another post. We learned first-hand that day that people really do put their lives on the line for their government every day overseas.)