BRISTOL, R.I. -- Marines with 8th Communication Battalion, 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, 2nd Intelligence Battalion, 2nd Radio Battalion, and 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, accompanied sailors aboard the USS Arlington to participate in a Fourth of July celebration in Bristol, Rhode Island, July 4.
The annual celebration has a history dating back to 1785, when Henry Wight, a Revolutionary War veteran, conducted the first patriotic exercises. The parade itself is believed to have formally begun in the 1800s.
“We partnered with the Navy to showcase our joint capabilities, pass on esprit de corps and have a presence at the oldest Fourth of July parade in the country,” said Maj. Marc Walker, the operations officer for 8th Comm. Bn.
The town's police, firefighters, council members, distinguished guests, students and more are invited to march along the two-and-a-half-mile route. Marines marched directly behind the sailors of the USS Arlington and Navy officer candidates from Naval Officer Training Command Newport, RI.
“Being invited to any parade as a Marine is a huge honor,” said Cpl. Nick J. Schwartz, an anti-tank missileman with 2nd Bn., 6th Marines. “Not only does it allow us to interact with the public, but it also allows us to show the professionalism that we as Marines hold so dear.”
The parade was one of several events held throughout the weekend to unite military and community members alike. Activities included a luncheon with the parade committee and reception aboard the ship to allow civilians to interact with Marine and Navy equipment.
“Community relations are important because [we recruit] throughout the country , and it is very rare in places without a major military base to interact with Marines and hear their stories,” said Walker. “Bristol has a significant military history, and fosters unprecedented level of support for the military and heartfelt patriotism showcased annually during their Fourth of July celebration.”
Marines regarded their stay as a very warm experience They reached out to children and veterans often during their time ashore and on ship.
“I can speak for the majority of Marines when I say Bristol accepted complete strangers into their town with open arms and treated us like family,” said Schwartz.