During the summer months at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C, thousands of people converge on the “oldest post of the Corps” to attend the Friday Evening Parades, which feature performances by the Marine Band and the elite Silent Drill Platoon. The hour and 15-minute presentation has become a universal symbol of the professionalism, discipline, and Esprit de Corps of the United States Marines.
On the morning of June 6, 2015, the barracks, which are located on the corners of 8th & I Streets in southeast Washington, D.C, were completely quiet. The bleachers surrounding the parade deck, which had been filled with hundreds of people the night before, were completely empty. The only sound that could be heard was the American flag waving in the wind. At the base of the flagpole stood Captain Lisa Lawrence.
Barely three years ago, Lawrence had been a regular participant in the Evening Parades at the barracks. She served as the parade adjutant, the first woman to ever hold that position; an achievement she had previously been told would never happen. To that she would sternly reply, “I’m going to march on that parade deck.”
On this particular summer day, Lawrence was not shouting commands to a formation of Marines – she was being promoted to the rank of major.
The Houston native chose this day to have her promotion ceremony because it marked the 11th anniversary of her journey as an officer of Marines which began at the Officer Candidate School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Since then, Lawrence has served as a Public Affairs Officer and has completed tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. She currently serves as an officer selection officer for Recruiting Station Baltimore, where she is tasked with recruiting highly qualified men and women who also desire to become Marine officers.
Among the guests at her promotion ceremony were Marines she had served with over the years, her Marine officer applicants, and Lieutenant Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, the Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations.
Bailey recalled the day when he first met Lawrence 10 years ago. She was a young lieutenant who had just graduated from The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia.
“There is talent and there is skill in the individual that stands before us today,” said Bailey. “When I met her as a second lieutenant she was spunky; she had that stride and kick. She was telling me that there was no limit for her.
“When I think about her, I think about T-L-C: She’s tough, she’s a leader, and she is a woman of character,” said Bailey.
Bailey spent much of the ceremony talking about Lawrence’s achievements.
“A public affairs officer is responsible for the strategic communication of the Marine Corps,” said Bailey. “If the messaging is not right or a story is not told properly then there will be confusion. In her role as a public affairs officer she is always on the dime and always ready and prepared to provide a response.
After his remarks, Bailey called the small gathering to attention. Lawrence’s promotion warrant was read and she had her new rank pinned on her collar. Bailey then had Lawrence recite the Uniformed Services Oath of Office.
Lawrence thanked Bailey for being a mentor to her and being a positive influence on her life.
“Without a doubt, you’ve always been there and always been someone who can reel me back in, especially when I was a little bit ambitious,” Lawrence laughed.
She then addressed her officer candidates and told them that they were the reason why she had decided to stay in the Marine Corps.
“I looked at what I do presently and how important it is, and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t really give this up.’
“I have a lot of work left to do. I need to be there as you all come into the Marine Corps and seek guidance, leadership and counsel the same way Lieutenant General Bailey has been there for me. Being promoted to the rank of major is not a pat on the back for the things I have done. As I’ve heard it said countless times, it’s actually setting the bar higher for the things I will do.”