My family and I were honored this past Friday (January 14, 2011) to attend the retirement ceremony of Neighbor Greg. For those of you who have never attended a military retirement? Gosh, all I can say is I am so sorry you haven't. I've been fortunate enough to attend four and each one is so special and different and just amazing. Last summer, Neighbor Debbie told me that her husband had finally decided it was time and he was putting in his papers to the military so he could head back in to the civilian world after twenty years of service. You want time to fast forward? Talk about retirement plans. It seems like we blinked and it was time to head to Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base to celebrate another twenty years of military service.
The Man was asked to give the invocation and benediction for the ceremony. Talk about pressure! The morning of the ceremony, we were sitting in the hotel room and I asked him what he was going to say. Had he written it down? Had he really thought it out? Tell me!!! He had not written a word down but had been thinking about what to say the past couple of weeks. GAH. Are you serious, man? You need to say this and that and let me write it for you because I am a WRITER. I BLOG! He graciously declined my kind offer and believed that he had it under control. I informed him that if he got too long winded? I would start a coughing fit and that would mean to wrap it up quick. He gave me a raised eyebrow and no comment.
We arrived at the Chapel and my sister, Neighbor Debbie came running out of the chapel doors. Makenna ran to hug her and she ran past Makenna straight to me. (classic cute moment) Oh, how happy I was to see her. We went inside where I was able to see their children (who I claim, too) and Greg's family. I kind of wanted to park myself on the front row because I feel like this is my family, but when you have SIX KIDS, there's no room, man. Three of the six have spouses. All three have kids, too. Dude, they took up three and half rows in the chapel for the whole family. How awesome is that??
The Man was invited to sit on stage with Neighbor Greg, the guest speaker, and the retiring officer since he was going to be praying. I grinned when my husband stood at attention in his sports coat civilian clothes. Hey, it's only been a year since he wore a uniform. In case I forget to mention later, he did an awesome job praying and I was so proud of him for doing such a good job. (and I didn't have to cough one time)
I kept my eye on Neighbor Greg because I could see how he was almost, but not quite, overwhelmed by the surreal quality of what was happening around him. I kept glancing at Neighbor Debbie across the aisle from me and she got teary from time to time listening to the great things being said about her husband. I really couldn't look at her much because I had potential to get all teary my own self and she told me if she looked at me and I was crying and it made her cry, then she would throw her shoe at me. I believed her because I threatened the same thing with her at The Man's retirement.
I just can't explain the reverence and love of country that just surrounds a military retirement. You get goose bumps from hearing the reading of Olde Glory (<---- click on that to see what I'm talking about) and you want to just bawl when you see those in uniform who are attending stand for certain parts so proud and true.
The most touching and tear inducing part of the ceremony was when Storm, the oldest son who is now serving in the USNAVY, walked up on stage in his dress blues to relieve his Father of the watch. They faced each other at attention while the Emcee read the relieving of the watch. No eye contact was made because, Internets? That was one intense emotional moment. When Storm said, "I relieve you, Dad." and Neighbor Greg replied, "I stand relieved, Son." ....well.....WAAHHHH is all I can say. I, and everyone else in the building, lost composure and proceeded to bawl. I can't even think about it now without getting blurred vision.
The VFW was where the reception was held and it was just perfect. There was a great turnout, good food, and fabulous company and fellowship. Our kids were off with friends and we were able to sit back and just enjoy ourselves to the fullest. (No, we did not get drunk. Jeesh.)
I just can't tell you how proud I am to know Neighbor Greg. Just to be able to tell him "Thank You" for all his service and sacrifice to our country. He has dedicated twenty years for you and me so that we could sleep in peace at night. There have been missed holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, school functions, and numerous other occasions he has missed to serve our country. I am honored to call him friend.
You rock, Neighbor Greg. I have all faith that you will succeed in the civilian world as well, if not better, than you have in the military.
Bravo Zulu, Chief!!! Fair winds and following seas.
* I do ask that you readers out there comment here if you can. I know many of you will come comment on my face of books page and I truly appreciate it but let's show some love and support to The Chief! Thanks in advance!*