A simple matter of issuing an order, you may think, but actually (because of our geographical dispersion) it was really quite complicated. You'd be amazed (unless you've been a solider) how many people - of all ranks - carefully engineered reasons why they could not attend the parade as summonsed. The commander got a parade, of course: but not the 100% turnout he wanted.
He was up against something very difficult to fight: the phenomenon of where people's loyalties really lie. Hard to tie this down - but you know it when you see it: when the flag is run up, it's pretty obvious who is saluting. (By the way, I was absolutely of the camp that saw the fundamental repository of loyalty at the unit level*, and I'm clearly in the majority: the thriving old comrades' associations in my part of the Army are all organised along unit lines.)
With all the nationalist-type questions being posed these days: Scotland vs UK; UK vs EU; religion vs country; regional devo etc etc, I have done a survey of myself and declare the following inventory of my loyalties.
- house vs school: school wins, though I had an excellent house-master. (But I was a day-boy)
- college vs university: an odd one, this. When I was studying it was university - college seemed too small and introverted - but as an alumnus now, it is college
- unit vs formation: see above, I am unrepentent
- England vs UK: again, an odd one. When I was serving with the Colours, I felt like a Brit. Now I'm not so sure - I think it's the Scotties that have driven me to this uncertainty (I've always despised Salmond)
- parish vs diocese: parish. Hmm, but when there's a really good bishop ...
- ward vs borough: no strong feelings but probably borough. Ward boundaries change from time to time which undermines localism; and my borough (unlike some) has a clear identity
- department vs company: company. In my wage-slave career (with four different employers) I switched departments every couple of years
- national vs supra-national: no contest ! - and let not Jean-Claude Junker ever, ever go on a tour of his Europe anywhere near me
What say you, readers - where do your loyalties lie?
* I turned up at the parade anyway, to watch his discomfiture. Boy, was he cross.