Front and Center! - Salvation Army Canada
  • Sep15Fri

    Front and Center!

    Retrospective #10 September 15, 2017 Randy C. Hicks
    "...to the flag with the star in the centre..."
    "...to the flag with the star in the centre..."

    Retrospective #10 Front & Center! 
    Randy C. Hicks

    I was all of nine, maybe ten when it happened. It was a warm, sunny Sunday, late afternoon/early evening. I was wearing my Sunday-go-to-meeting black pants and shoes along with a sweater I had recently inherited from an older cousin of mine! It was a burgundy Salvation Army guernsey emblazoned on the front with a well-known SA symbol - the crest!

    I was lining up with the others when the booming voice spoke my name. I would know that voice anywhere! It was the Young People’s Sargent Major. While maybe only 5’8” to 5’10” - to me he was a giant. I turned and looked up into those sparkling eyes and reddish face (which I would later learn probably came about after years of heavy drinking before his conversion). The bright smile (another of his trade marks) accompanied his request (which he explained was a most important task) unfolded as he handed me his satchel.

    (Who remembers the satchel? Made with black leather they were standard fare for certain elders among us at the barracks! It held, among other things, their Bible, Songbook, Tissues, and of course a package of Sen-Sens - but that's another story for later)

    Before I had a chance to consider the assignment he was already moving me closer to the front of the line. Actually, it was to THE front of the line where I would be flanked by Corps Senior and Young People's Salvation Army flag bearers with their colors maybe ten feet ahead of the troops that followed! Literally FRONT & CENTER! You see, the YPSM was also the Parade Sargent and what he wanted he got! The Open-Air March of Witness was ready to mobilize!

    I have to say I was a little scared (A lot scared actually) but as the band played and the timbrels rattled while the people sang (“belted out” perhaps more accurate) a popular gospel song, I began to relax. A proud smile spread across my face and I waved to all the people on the street or their front porches. They pointed, smiled and waved back!

    Might this unique experience have played a role in my being where I am now? We have a couple of bins as well as some drawers here at the archives holding a large number of retired SA flags. Any time I walk by them flashback scenes randomly appear on my memory screen of Open Airs, Easter Marches of Witness, Congress Parades and Remembrance Day gatherings at the Cenotaph; from when I was a kid right up to today. In one such procession there was a ridiculous clown banging on a lone bass drum leading a small town’s Christmas advance!

    Who knows the impact of any of these “exclamation points” in people's lives?

    What of such events made a lasting impression on you?

    What of participation in this type of fanfare do you know impacted others?

    I had a D.C. Once who always said when parting: “Keep the flag flying!” Oh, because I get to choose, below you will see my sessional flag! Greetings to all you "Disciples of Jesus!"

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