Promotions, Traditions and New Experiences


I'm an Army wife, but yesterday I was able to witness something I've never witnessed before - a promotion ceremony for someone in another branch of service. In this case, a Marine was being promoted. I love promotion ceremonies. They're very happy occasions for military families. They offer an opportunity to recognize one's achievements in front of their peers and, for the one who is being promoted, an opportunity to thank their fellow service members, leaders and everyone who has helped and supported them along the way.

I've never been to a promotion ceremony where the person being promoted hasn't thanked their spouse (assuming they are married). And with good reason. A stable and functioning homefront, especially during war, has a significant impact on the service member. For the deployed service member, knowing that all is well at home, or is at least taken care of, gives them some peace while they're away. Even in the face of extremely difficult times, military spouses, better than anyone I know, take care of business. This is one reason many of us feel that military spouses serve too.

At the promotion ceremony, when the Marine began thanking his lovely wife and daughter, I watched tears form in his wife's eyes. I got a lump in my throat. I remembered when I was last in her shoes and my husband was thanking me for my support and love. At the time, any bad memory of difficult deployments, long separations, bad moves and stressful times faded away, as if they had never happened. In that moment, I was so proud of my husband for the man he is and the soldier he has become. I wondered what the Marine wife was thinking when her husband was singing her praises. I'm sure she was filled with pride and, like me, was saying to herself, "It's so worth it."

I've been to dozens of Army promotion ceremonies, but yesterday, I witnessed something I've never seen at an Army ceremony. After the new rank was pinned on the Marine's shoulders, he took the old rank and told the crowd that it's tradition to pass the rank down to someone who will soon be promoted to your former rank. He called another Marine up to the stage, told him that his former rank had served him well and he handed the rank that he had been wearing for the past few years to the Marine who will soon be promoted. It was touching to see the torch being passed. I love that tradition. I love promotion ceremonies.

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