Monday, November 06, 2006

All Choked Up...

It was a pretty good weekend, all-in-all. The weather was great. Sunny and COLD.

While it seems like the whole 'cold' thing would be bad, it's worse for us if it's warm, because we're wearing heavy costumes, running around, dancing, singing, and even on a day that doesn't get above 55 degrees, you sweat like a Scotsman reading a book.

The Guardsmen are serious hits this year. They don't get much reaction in the mornings at the front gate, but that's usually because there aren't many folks out there yet. The folks who are are too timid to play with them. That's okay. This year is all about establishing the reputation and getting a 'comfort zone'. Next year, everyone can just look out. There's going to be a Black Lions explosion at CRF.

One of our former Guardsmen, Steven (Seda), has been a big supporter of the Black Lions. He was introduced to the guys last year when they performed a precision rifle drill on Student Days, and thought it was the coolest thing he'd ever seen. When the cadets presented our shield to the King, Seda was tasked with carrying it, and he carried it very reverently all day.

Well, this past weekend, Seda approached me and told me that he wanted to take the oath of the Black Lions. Of course, I was honored, and Lolly (our Queen) had the Guards bring him in front of her. I asked him the following questions:

1. Do you understand that COURAGE is not the absence of fear, but
rather, it is bold action in the face of fear?

2. Do you understand that to live with INTEGRITY is to conduct
yourself as a gentleman, even when you could get away with doing

3. As an ADULT member of the Black Lions Battalion, one who would
lead these young men and women down the right path, do you
understand that one cannot hold the torch to light the path for another
without also lighting your own path as well?

Seda, of course, answered yes to all of these questions, and then recited the Black Lions Prayer. I then took a moment to explain to the audience a bit of the history of the Black Lions and what we stand for, inviting any adult anywhere to join us in taking the oath and reciting the prayer.

Of course, because I'm a great big sap, I became emotional. Enough so that several of the guards approached me and asked if I was alright.

Sometimes I wonder if they understand what they all mean to me, and what the existence of the Black Lions means to me. To see them do well in the Academy, and to perform well as the Royal Guard means so much more than one would guess at first glance. It means they're making good choices, far better choices than most urban teenagers make these days. They consciously reject the mentality of most of their peers and embrace responsibility, integrity, discipline and respect. When I see young men and women whom I love so sincerely making the right choices and turning their backs on the darkness...the very EVIL that is choking society, I get emotional.

THIS is Dr. Loftin's dream come to life. Not just a corps of Middle School Cadets at Imani...but the existence of the ideals and values OUTSIDE the walls of the school. I know he grabs a ringside seat every weekend and watches. I can hear that low, rolling laugh of his when these kids are standing around learning the dances of the Elizabethan Royal Court and congratulating each other and themselves on how well they did it...and I know there ARE tears in Heaven, because I know Doc cried when a tent full of complete strangers who'd never HEARD of the Black Lions all recited the Black Lions Prayer along with Seda when he swore to take up the torch and lead down the path of what is right and good.

So...yeah. That's why I get choked up. Because every one of these kids is worth every tear of pride that I shed.