Tales of Trump Nation

Supporters cheer as they wait for US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak at a rally at the Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas on June, 18, 2016. / AFP / John GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Gathering at Arlington Cemetery and the Ceremony of the Sentinel:

From the fifty states they came, from across America, they journeyed, summoned by the greatness of their mission. They had joined in a cause of hard work and sacrifice, and yet it was also a cause, they knew, offering great satisfaction. And now it was time to consecrate their labors, to dedicate their destiny in the company of each other, in the majestic shadows cast by the grave-markers of America’s greatest heroes.

These were the men and women of Trump Nation. They volunteered for their duty, arising from cities crowded and sparse, from states large and small. They were from the hills, from the valleys, from the plains, from the islands.

They were coming to Arlington National Cemetery, to congregate in solemn silence in the presence of the shades of our nation’s epic warriors, from Omar Bradley to Audie Murphy.

In coming to Arlington, some drove their cars, a few took other forms of transportation, but most rode their motorcycles, their hogs. These were the bikers, the Trump Silver Knights. Most of them rode Harley-Davidsons, and all of their machines were American makes. Made in USA — that was very important.

Coming to Arlington just as ordinary citizens, these Silver Knights of Freedom stood in silent, hand-on-heart devotion during the sacred ceremony of the Changing of the Guard on the marble steps in front of the Tomb of the Unknown, overlooking the Potomac River. There, in the high church of American civic existence, each Trump Man and Trump Woman would perhaps recite a silent oath of fealty to the nation or a quiet prayer to their God. They knew they were going to need all the spiritual sustenance they could garner, what with the many tumultuous times ahead.

Yes, there was so much legacy and so much history at Arlington. And now, the Trump Knights knew, each in his or her own mind, that it was time to compose another chapter in the American saga.

Later, at night, in a park outside of Arlington, the Knights held a ritual of their own. It was a new ceremony, aimed at forging steely hearts, hardened for the rigor of the 2016 presidential election. It was a ceremony conceived to help their man, Donald Trump; in their respectful but rowdy irreverence, they sometimes referred to him as the Badass Boss.

Amidst the greenery, by the light of headlamps, candles, and flashlights, the Trump forces freely resolved to recommit their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the cause they had undertaken — soldiering for Trump. Yet even as they were all fully committed, they still felt they needed to do more: They needed a rite of initiation. Their ceremony would be simple and evocative, summoning up the original mental glue of the Trump campaign, which was first focused, of course, on building a wall and thereby securing the U.S.-Mexican border.

So this new ceremony would build from that hinge-moment of border-securing: It would recall the age-old experience of a sentinel in the night, standing watch, identifying friend or foe. The initiator and the initiatee would say these words, in this precise manner:

“Who goes there?”

“It is I, a fellow American.”

“Very well, step forth, and unfold yourself in the light of the citizenry, so that we might know you.”

“I speak true. I am an American.”

“State your name.”

And the stranger would give his or her answer.

“Where are you from? Tell me now!”

And the person would answer once again.

If the Sentinel were pleased with these answers, judging them to be true and sincere, then would come these words of greeting: “Fellow American, we are glad that you have joined our small but growing band of patriotic citizens. We bid you welcome.”

And thus, the Ceremony of the Sentinel was complete. The initiator would shake hands with the initatee — who was, after all, now a fellow Sentinel, a fellow protector of America’s border and sovereignty.

The Ceremony of the Sentinel was that simple — and that profound.

The Trump Sentinels had a clear code: They would dedicate themselves to the election campaign of Trump, and through his candidacy, they would dedicate themselves to their country, the United States of America — and no other. They would, they pledged, always speak true. They would utter no false words and tolerate no false words.

After all, they knew that when a man or a woman lives by integrity, honor is born. They further knew that if they spent their time in the company of great friends and comrades, then they, too, would find themselves suffused with greatness.

Of course, these Trump Knights were about more than just solemn ceremony. They also liked to have a good time. After the Sentinel Ceremony, the bikers might indulge in hearty frivolity — some braaaping, some boss hooning — and maybe, even, some accidental asphalt surfing. Yet fun and games, important as they were, would never be allowed to detract from hard work. And yes, they all knew they had hard work ahead.

From then on, an initiated Trump Silver Knight of Freedom would wear a breastplate, also called a pectoral, inscribed with the words, “Trump for America.”

So this was the mission of a Trump Knight: It would be a life of strenuous effort, of profound commitment, but also, in the quiet way that warms the soul, of profound fulfillment. This was their new way: the life they had chosen.

And of course, their real work would begin in Cleveland, at the 2016 Republican Convention. Down those mean streets, they would have to go, strong and resolute, unstained and unafraid.

Yes, it would be a test. Trump Nation was about to undergo its true trial by fire.