So today was not exactly a relaxing, lazy BBQ and sparklers kind of day, but at least it was felt a little bit special. I got up and went into the office about an hour before my shift started to meet Ingrid and Terra to stop by the USO BBQ and then attend a 4th of July re-enlistement ceremony in which General Petraeus was the distinguished guest.
Unfortunately, but the time we found our way to the correct entrance to the flight line (coincidentally right by the USO BBQ) all we really had time to do was wave hello to the folks who were grilling before we cleared security to get to the ceremony. The ceremony was being held in a hanger on the flight line so all though it was in the shade it was still 106 (plus wretchedly heavy military uniforms).
I really enjoyed the ceremony however. In addition to Petraeus were Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham, plus Ambassador Olson. The airport hanger was enormous and there were easily 500 people there. I was also pleasantly surprised at the speeches that were made. I was expecting a generic, jingoistic display of blind hoo-rah patriotism, but instead I found the speeches to be thoughtful and respectfully patriotic. They reflected the heroism and sacrifices made by the soldiers and were less about the war and more about what it means to be honorable and noble. I thought the theme was really unifying and the music was wonderful. Easily the best part was when Petraeus and his First Sergeant took the sword from a member of the 1st Cavalry drill team as part of their presentation and used it to cut the biggest American flag cake I have ever seen!
The ceremony lasted about a half an hour and then we had to miss the re-enlistment BBQ to head back to the office since we'd left another station to watch for emergency messages and we'd been gone for sometime. Otherwise there were no fireworks for me (apart from the incoming alarms that went off about 2 hours ago - all's well though), but I hope today was a day full of family, food and fireworks for each of you :-)