Last week, at an undisclosed time, at an undisclosed location, and with a room full of undisclosed people, Luke, Matt and I were lucky enough to be a part of the promotion ceremony of my stepfather, Opa, to Chief Warrant Officer 5 in the United States Army. Wow. CW5 is a very big deal. For warrant officers, there is no higher rank. It is a true crowning achievement to a long and successful military career.
For those who do not know, my mom spent her career in the Army and retired as a Major. I've been to my fair share of promotion ceremonies in my day, but this one was pretty special. And I got to see it through the eyes of Luke and Matt, which was interesting as well.
Opa has been deployed to Iraq twice. The first time, he missed Nate and my wedding, and celebrated in Baghdad with a toast of Diet Coke. The second time, he missed his 10th wedding anniversary with my mom. It might not seem like a big deal to those outside of it, but imagine missing an entire year of your daily grind. Twice. While working 14-16 hours each day, 7 days a week, with a couple of hours off for church on Sunday.
Do you know anyone in the military now? A veteran? If you haven't done so recently, take a moment out of your day to say thanks. Thanks for the sacrifice. Thanks for the dedication. Thanks for the selflessness.
And then, enjoy a few photos from Opa's promotion ceremony. Since the Army now uses Velcro to hold your rank onto your uniform and hat, the idea of having someone "pin" you at your promotion ceremony isn't as dramatic as it used to be. But never fear, those Army guys (and girls) still get their fun. The "pinner" now dramatically rips your Velcroed rank off of your chest, and punches you square in order to adhere the new rank. Thankfully they don't punch you in the head when adhering your new rank to your hat.
Opa was so grateful to have his mom and older brother travel from Wisconsin to "pin" him this time. It was a great crowning, proud achievement that he could finally share with his family. You can see the pride on his (and his mom's face!). His mom couldn't bear to punch him in the chest after "pinning" him... what mother could? But some of his Iraq buddies weren't so nice.
Luke and Matt did their best to stay quiet. There were a lot of very quiet people in uniform in attendance at the ceremony, and I think Luke and Matt were a little overwhelmed at first. Too intimidated to make noise. Not such a bad thing! But as the ceremony neared its end, Matt had had enough of sitting down and being quiet. He wanted to be a part of the action. I'm not sure if Matt realizes the code and protocols that the Army operates under... but surely they make exception for a cute 2 year old carrying around a blanket like Linus.
So congrats, Opa. This outnumbered Slavik family sure is proud to have you in our ranks. Thank you for your service, your dedication, and your patriotism.
And thanks for the cake.