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I have spent most of the last 2 weeks traveling and the middle piece of the traveling was gathering up the boys and the Rocket Scientist and heading to Happy Valley for SilverShoes' commissioning and graduation. My experiences with my kids have taught me things I never expected to know and with SilverShoes, it has been many things military. I need to thank the Military Fools board but especially George Runkle for all the helpful hints that kept me from any embarrassing errors at military events.

Maybe others have had a similar experience but having my daughter return for college to a town we had left when she was 3 brought lots of memories together at the same time. We had a family dinner on Thursday night a block from the first preshool she attended. It was also the restaurant where she and I ate the night before I left her for her freshman year.

If you haven't had to reserve a hotel room for graduation in a college town, you really don't know the meaning of gouging. Charging 4 times the normal rate is probably the average and even getting a room is a challenge. The place I normally stay is a family-owned local motel so a year or so before graduation when I was staying there for an AFROTC event, I asked about rooms for graduation. They start booking at 8 am(EDT) the day after Labor Day before graduation. Last September at 6 am my time I started dialing for rooms and managed to get through at about 5 after the hour. They didn't have my favorite room but I got the type of room I wanted. Well, I “reserved” it. The reservation isn't final until they receive a check for the full amount for the 2 nights(a required minimum). Since Thursday was at the regular rate, I had 2 rooms for that night and one for Friday and Saturday. I like my sons but I'd rather not share a room with them again.

On to the commissioning. It's strange what sticks I guess. I was nervous about pinning on her bar(I would be doing one and the Rocket Scientist would do the other.) When she hand me the bar before the ceremony, I realized I had nothing to be nervous about – it wasn't a pin that would be hard. It was the kind you pushed straight through the fabric and then stuck the grabby thing on each end. I couldn't screw this up:).

She was also nervous. She told me she couldn't sleep because it felt like the night before Christmas. I knew quite a few of the AF people there – other cadets and the professional staff. She did have the advantage of having been to other commissionings. The first one is an individual commissioning with invited friends and family. The colonel said lots of nice things about her. She had been Wing Commander in the spring so he knew her fairly well. One surprise was that she was commended as a Blue Chip graduate – top 15% of the AF cadets in country- which will give her special privileges in terms of graduate education. Then the officer of her choice(The Captain who was the Commandant of Cadets this year) administered the oath. Then we pinned on her bars. I didn't realize that she also got to speak and was proud that I got through even that without crying. It was definitely close when she thanked her family for their support and especially me for being at every AFROTC activity she had during college.

Her individual ceremony was in the morning and in the afternoon, the university held a triservice ceremony that is like a separate graduation ceremony for all of the services newly-minted officers. Since this is a very large university, it was really lovely to go to a ceremony for 60 student/officers. Each one was recognized individually on stage with their name, career area and assignment location. They were congratulated by Brigadier General who was the featured speaker, the head of their service and the Vice Provost. One of the nicest parts was that when they all took the oath and got to [your name here], instead of a jumble of names, they went down the rows each saying their name individually.

I left graduation up to her and in the end, she decided not to go. It was the following day and would be big and impersonal, particularly after this experience. So now she has about 3 weeks before she has to report to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City.

I'll write about the college experience sometime on the college board but this is about her personally. I'm really proud of the person that she has become. I love her but I also like her and enjoy the time we have together. She's not perfect – none of us are. She is someone who has chosen to serve her country and I think she'll do a great job. Here's to 2nd Lt Silvershoes, USAF !
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