I admit it, I'm a sucker for military pomp and ceremony. Everything from the neatly lined rows of folding chairs to the long-winded speeches turns me on. Add in rows of coasties standing at attention in dress uniform and my toes are curling in my sensible pumps. For me, events like award ceremonies, change of command, retirement events are the reward for all the mundane, not so titillating sides of this life. I put up with clothes that smell like diesel fuel and middle of the night phone calls just for such events.
Today I get to gussy up and play military wife at just such an event. This means I had an excuse to go through my closet and 2 large wardrobe boxes in the garage I hadn't unpacked since the last move. It means I have an excuse to break out the curling iron and the (nearly nude) lipstick. It means I get to go through town and feel just a little more privileged than normal because well.... I get to go to this special event that binds my little community in a way the larger civilian community won't ever understand. Most of all, it means I get to see my husband lit up like a Christmas tree in his uniform finery and that image will carry me through the rest of the summer's fantasies.
As fun as the trappings are, the underlying meaning and tradition of such events isn't lost on me either. To be a part of some bigger picture, the lineage of honor and respect, is at the core of the lump that sometimes comes to my throat. For over 230 years the remnants and descendants of George Washington's standing army and Alexander Hamilton's Revenue Cutter Service march on to a call to sacrifice for the greater good... and events like these, such sacrifice is acknowledged and celebrated, and sometimes mourned.
I have had a few spouses over the years ask if it is appropriate or even worth attending such events. For those not raised in homes of military tradition I can understand the hesitance. Are such events really meant for family members or are they primarily meant for active duty members? My heartfelt answer is "go!". You're missing out on one of the best parts of military life if you don't get to attend events like this. These most certainly are designed with both the member and the family in mind. Our coasties dress up and stand proud, and we honor them just by attending. We don't leave empty handed either, we get to curl our toes because who doesn't love to gaze at a man in uniform!