Washington column for Sept. 7

Saluting the Colonel

Every birthday only gets better for Col. John Bourgeois, the former director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, who earlier this year was crowned by esteemed peers as the modern day John Philip Sousa.

Photo by Ray Boc

As he does each birthday, the Louisiana-born Bourgeois, who resides in Tiger Valley, hosted an outdoor luncheon last Thursday featuring genuine Cajun food — which he himself spends days preparing — for dozens of his Rappahannock friends and their wives (the latter kindly accomplishing the serving).

Proof that the colonel’s dishes were true Cajun was reflected on the face of an approving former Louisiana Sen. J. Bennett Johnston, who added extra tabasco sauce to generous helpings of shrimp and salad, sausage and rice. In fact, the former senator, who lives in Old Hollow, added a healthy layer of hot sauce to his bread pudding, prepared by Audrey Regnery of the Greenfield Inn Bed and Breakfast in Washington.

Mrs. Regnery smiled and told the senator, “I’m glad you like it.”

Jason Brady, vice president and senior commercial banker at Union Bank & Trust in Washington, moonlighted as bartender for Col. John Bourgeois’ birthday luncheon in Tier Valley last Thursday. Photo by John McCaslin

“We know John is a great cook, and John you outdid yourself today, this is wonderful,” Johnston remarked during post-meal birthday tributes to Bourgeois. “We know he’s a great musician because we’ve heard him direct the bands here. But few people know — I guess you started out with [Jimmy] Carter?”

“Eisenhower!” the colonel corrected.

“And John had this incredible facility of being able to be best friends with every president. They didn’t know whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. But they knew he was an all-American.”

Among other well-wishers saluting Bourgeois was former FBI and CIA director William Webster, who after a bit of prodding provided his personal take on former FBI directors James Comey and Robert Mueller — and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un — as each, in different ways, continue to confront “The Donald.”.

Former FBI and CIA director William Webster (right) presents a birthday gift to Col. John Bourgeois, the former director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band who lives outside Washington in Tiger Valley. Photo by John McCaslin

When it came his turn to speak, the colonel reminded his guests, including Father Horace “Tuck” Grinnell of St. Peter Catholic Church, “It’s more blessed to give than receive. And I hope that I haven’t given you indigestion.”

Then, turning serious: “You are the treasure of my life. And that is very special to me. You’ve given me everything — friendship, camaraderie, and sometimes good stories.”

“And sometimes grief!” somebody shouted from a nearby picnic table.

“Not too much grief,” Bourgeois quipped. “They didn’t attend today.”


Our community is deeply saddened by the death of Gary Settle’s father, Fred Thomas Settle. Settle, 81, passed away last Wednesday, Aug. 23. Funeral services were held on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at Found and Sons Funeral Chapel with Rev. Jon Heddleston officiating. Interment followed in Sperryville Cemetery with military honors provided by Culpeper VFW Post 2524. Gary, you are in our prayers.

Birthday wishes

Birthday wishes go out to a special young lady, Joy Virginia Alther, of Washington. She will celebrate her day on Tuesday (Sept. 12). Happy birthday, Joy!

Also, birthday wishes go out to twin sisters Shirley Hitt and Hazel Haines. They will celebrate their birthday on Sept. 16. Happy birthday, ladies!

Remembering 9/11

Our country will be pausing on Monday, Sept. 11, the 16th anniversary of the greatest terrorist attack upon the United States.

Let’s not forget the innocent victims and the brave heroes that died attempting to save them. We will never forget the survivors, the children, the devastated families and the grieving friends they left behind. President George W. Bush spoke these words on the three-month anniversary of the attacks in December 2001:

“But for those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we’ll ever need is the tick of a clock at the 46th minute of the eighth hour of the 11th day. We will remember where we were and how we felt. We will remember the dead and what we owe them. We will remember what we lost and what we found…

And in our time, we will honor the memory of the 11th day by doing our duty as citizens of this great country, freedom’s home and freedom’s defender.”

Let’s take time out from our busy schedule on Monday, Sept. 11 to remember those who lost their lives through this tragedy!

Have a wonderful week!