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thedrifter
03-21-08, 11:36 AM
Quantico honors late president, his works

By Lance Cpl. Andrew S. Keirn
Combat Correspondent

MONTPELIER – Marines from Quantico and a crowd of spectators gathered together Sunday in a small family burial plot that sits on one of the most historical plots of land in America and holds the remains of one of the country’s most influential and visionary political leaders, President James Madison, the ‘‘Father of the Constitution.”

Celebrating the 257th anniversary of the birth of President Madison, the annual presidential wreath laying ceremony was held at Montpelier, the former home of James and Dolley Madison.

Quantico’s color guard, band and ceremonial platoon delivered a formal dedication to the late president. The base commander, Col. Charles A. Dallachie, laid down the official presidential wreath at the base of Madison’s gravestone during the ceremony.

Lee Brooks, president of James Madison University’s student government association, was one of the guest speakers who hailed Madison’s legacy during the opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of his influence and the need to continue paying tribute each year.

‘‘While President Madison might not be as celebrated as the likes of Washington or Lincoln, without his visionary mind this country would not be the great nation it has become,” Lee said. ‘‘With each new generation, the ideas of Madison need to be remembered to ensure the vision he had that led to this country’s success of a constitutional government that continues to allow us the freedom we as Americans cherish.”

The color guard marched on the colors as the American and Marine Corps flags snapped in the wind behind the many wreaths later presented by several surrounding community groups. The ceremony continued with remarks from Dallachie after the return of the color guard.

‘‘President Madison holds a special place in the hearts of Marines. We like to refer to him as a warrior president,” Dallachie said.

Madison was one of the only presidents who led his own troops into battle as their commander in chief in defense of the British during the War of 1812.

Other key points of Madison’s contribution to the United States include creating the basic framework on which the Constitution of the United States was established, his influence in the creation of a strong central federal government, was based upon a separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the federal government and after the country suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of British and even watched the White House burn to the ground eventually the war ended with the Treaty of Ghent on a high note in 1815, after which a new spirit of nationalism swept the country.

‘‘The presence of the Marines brings everything to this ceremony,” said Hal Dempsey, who visited the ceremony with his wife Susan and has been coming for the past several years. ‘‘We love to hear the band play and see the flawless Marines perform. It brings a tear to your eye. We always leave on a high.”

Ellie