The Few, The Proud: Marine Week Boston

It is a Marine Corps extravaganza in Beantown. This is Marine Week Boston, a time when the Few and the Proud with gear, government servants and contractors in tow display their might around the city. Organizers thought a re-staging of the Boston Tea Party to be an overused metaphor and opted for something a little tamer.

Sarcasm aside, the event is superb. It probably has cost a small fortune, but it is worth a look, even if you’re not into this sort of thing.

Following in the tradition of the well-received Navy Fleet Week, the Corps has overtaken much of the city. Its presence is undeniable, but not over blown. Boston Common hosts science and technology displays from Marine Corps Systems Command and the boys and girls from the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, both out of Quantico, Va. Just outside their tents is the Corps’ rotor wing road show—a V-22 Osprey (a must-see), a CH-53E, a UH-1, plus an AH-1. There are guns galore, a tank, more guns, more of everything. (The working dogs have been popular, and there have been many a local canine visitor with owners in tow.)

Get this: Not a negative word from visitors. No protestors. It’s a love fest. Bostonians with their very hip accents are interested and happy the Corps has landed.

Marines have set up weapons and vehicle displays at Faneuil Hall (which may be the longest food court in the world). Maybe its Massachusetts’ gun laws (deemed oppressive by those in the know) but locals are happy to handle Corps fire power, even if they are pointing weapons into the crowd – thanks to a few inattentive Marines.

This is a Mafia event. Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who heads the First Marine Expeditionary Force and is said to be a finalist for Corps commandant, is a Boston native. Marine Forces Reserve chief Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly is a local. His 25th Marines are providing much of the support.

There have been a few “traditional” Vietnamers. Longish hair, requisite leather vests, but thrilled to spend a few moments with these modern-day Marines. Day care centers visit with toddlers bound by ropes. College engineering majors cannot get enough of the Warfighting Lab’s unmanned aerial vehicle. (They were happy for a few pointers since they are building one. The lab’s civilian engineers had these kids captivated.)

The advertising has been top-flight, with creative appearing to come from J. Walter Thompson, the Corps’ long-time ad agency. This is not a recruiting event and does not have the feel of an awkward body-snatcher, pull-up bar moment. Marine Week Boston is said to be like its Chicago predecessor last year, sharing “the Corps’ culture, history and tradition with Bostonians and for them to learn about the Corps’ value to the nation.”

Who’d have thought? The event runs through May 9.

In case you prefer something a little different, local anarchists staged a reenactment in honor of International Workers’ Day. The Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement remembered the Haymarket “Martyrs” with a reading on Boston Common May 4. Though sparsely attended, it held my interest. To be in a city where the federal government does not thrive can be liberating.

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