Duty, Honor, Country

Ok, so bummed that America lost (I never thought I would be pulling for a tie!?) but so glad we will be advancing nonetheless.  I’m really enjoying watching our guys play in the World Cup.

So in honor of America, I wanted to share about the West Point graduation which Scott and I were able to attend last month.

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My sister’s boyfriend, Justin, graduated from West Point this year.  Scott and I traveled up to West Point in the fall for a football game, and Scott started angling for an invitation to graduation right about then.  He is Captain America, after all.  We must have made a good impression on Justin when we hosted him in our apartment back in Manhattan or this past Easter, because we got the invitation! Woo to the hoo!

Scott was in from the second the invite touched his hands. The commencement was on a Wednesday so I waffled a bit.  When they announced that the President would be speaking, I decided, politics aside, that I would probably never have an opportunity to hear the President of the United States speak in real life ever again.  And I really wanted to support Megan and Justin.  Boy, I am so glad we went.  It was such an honor to be at West Point’s graduation, seeing the graduating class be commissioned to go serve and protect our country.  It was an experience I will never forget.

I don’t care who you are – hearing Hail to the Chief as the President enters West Point’s Michie Stadium while the next class who have chosen to protect our country salutes – is a special experience.  I got chills and teared up.

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Lets get real.  I teared up A LOT that day.  I have a profound respect and gratitude for those that serve our country and protect our way of life.  It’s so often a thankless job.  The whole day I just felt so honored to be there to witness.  Obama gave his speech, and then gave out the diplomas to those that graduated with honors.  He then stayed and shook every single cadet’s hand.  I thought for sure he would leave before the ceremony was over. It was nice that he stayed.

After the speech and all of the diplomas had been handed out, the graduates all tossed their hats in the air and let out the biggest cheer!
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All of the children were then allowed to rush the field to claim a cadet’s hat.  The cadets leave money or a note in their hat in honor of the tradition.

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Then our cadet came and found us! IMG_5883

After the ceremony, the new graduates had to immediately go get their new uniform.  My mom laughed at me when I saw Justin approaching our picnic and I said, “Oh, here comes Justin in his new outfit!”

After getting their military ID and new uniform, it was time for the commissioning ceremonies.  IMG_5885

I was surprised how intimate these ceremonies were.  Everyone chose their own commissioning officer, who performed the ceremony in front of the new Second Lieutenant’s (not a cadet anymore!) friends and family.  The commissioning officer was usually a mentor or someone that they had a close relationship with.  IMG_5888

The graduate then has their bars (?) pinned on by two people that are important in their life.  Justin had his mom and dad pin his.  It was just one more personal touch and an opportunity to honor the people that supported you throughout your time at West Point – or that helped get you there.  It was very emotional and personal.  photo-4

One of my favorite touches was that when the commissioning ceremony was over, the graduate had an official “first salute” as a commissioned officer.  Again, making things more personal, they typically choose a close friend that is still a cadet.  My favorite “first salute” was for a girl that had graduated.  She had six {female} friends show up to give her first salute.  I think I was literally choking back sobs at that point.

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And then it was over! And my sister was suddenly dating a commissioned officer in the United States Army.  Holy moly!

Congratulations, Justin.  Thank you for letting us share in your special day.

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