The Birthday Ball



I attended a Navy Birthday Ball this weekend. In Idaho. That’s right – Idaho. And it was great.

You’ve heard the story of the Sailor who slung an oar over his back and started walking inland until someone asked him, “What’s that?” That’s where he stopped and lived out the rest of his days. Idaho’s kind of like that.

Or so I thought.

A couple of weeks ago a buddy of mine called and asked if we wanted to go to the Navy Birthday Ball. You mean, here? In Idaho? Where is it going to be held, in a garage? There won’t be enough Sailors to carry the cake, not to mention the flags. “It’ll be fun,” he said.

OK, I’m game. This should be interesting, at least. So we went.

When we pulled up to the hotel, I was surprised to find the parking lot full. Remember, this is Idaho. Parking lots are rarely filled (except at outdoor sporting goods stores, of course). I was more surprised to see Sailors. Lots of Sailors. Ladies in evening gowns floated by. The Color Guard was outside too, getting ready.

When we got to the ballroom, the room was full of tables and uniforms.

The evening progressed like every Navy Birthday progresses, with a flag ceremony, a prayer, cutting of the cake, and a tribute to fallen and missing camrades. In lieu of a guest speaker, though, we were shown a slide show with images of local Sailors in desert cammies serving in Iraq.

A couple of years ago the Navy removed the ‘R’ from USNR because the distinction was irrelevant. And it showed in the room that night. The Navy Birthday wasn’t just celebrated on the coasts this weekend. It was celebrated all across the country. The Sailors that evening weren’t Idaho Sailors, or reserve Sailors. They were simply Sailors. And it was great.

Happy birthday, Navy.


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