So I was showing my dogs in the New York State Fair Wednesday and Thursday. Among the other events, I was part of the Wyoming County Drill Team. Actually, this was our first appearance at the fair. So a Drill Team has eight men that show dogs in a routine that is set to music and tells a story.
Anyways, we made ours into a salute to the military. So the introduction was short and to the point, and it made the announcer choke up and the crowd cheer. We hadn’t even begun. Anyways, we each wore a uniform of a man who had served, or was serving, one from each branch. I was the navy with an old style black navy uniform. (we wore black pants, a uniform, and the corresponding hat) Five of us also held a flag of each branch. I held the Marine flag. (No, not the navy because the others are blue and white, and I was the captain and lead, and the only flag until the last four people. So we figured it was best to put the red flag in front.) Regardless, our banner and the American Flag went out first, then we emerged for the gate. When I walked out on my own, the crowd roared. Then the rest of us came out and wove military style, and then we marched off to our places. We did more of our routine, and every time, we finished a part, the crowd clapped. At one point, we circle around the flag, place our flags into the ground, and salute. (We held the salute for about thirty seconds). At that moment, though we were not allowed to smile, or look around, you could tell out of the corner of your eye, the crowd had stood up with up and gave us a standing ovation. and we were only half done. It was so hard not to break the solemn faces we were to hold. When we finished, the crowd gave us another standing ovation.
As we passed through the crowd on our way back, we got hundreds of congratulations from crying, yes crying, spectators. That felt amazing. That was the first time we had actually finished on time and had done it nearly perfectly. And the crowd gave us two standing ovations and was choked up and crying. (The fault was in the beginning in the weave due to a person who hadn’t been able to come to practice, ever.) Anyways, the most amazing part was when my golden retriever and I were walking back, a currently serving army uniform came up to me choked up and shook my hand and said that all who serve thank you. I almost died of pride. I walked my dog out to treat him, and I was confronted by a Vietnam veteran who was crying. He congratulated me and saluted me quickly before walking off. I was with another member of the tam and we probably died of pride of accomplishment. That was the most amazing thing. We had made grown men, uniforms, cry. That was priceless.
In the end, we were reserve champions due to some minor faults, and the crowd almost went up in a frenzy that the Wizard of Oz team had took Grand. But the faces of the two uniforms beat the reserve and whatever the crowd thought a million times over. That will never happen again. So that was my Drill team, and as a reminder, we did this all with dogs in one hand, and flags in the other.