It is really hard to know where to start on this one, because there is so much to tell. So many things about the last few days (which I keep wanting to refer to as "the weekend," but was in fact a Tuesday and Wednesday) that were so incredible, and so incredibly special. Yesterday, December 7th, the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Don graduated from OCS and received his commission as an officer in the US Coast Guard. Words can scarcely express how amazingly proud I am of what he has accomplished - not only getting into and completing a SUPER competitive and elite program, but finishing first in his class, and receiving no less than five awards at graduation. Forgive me for bragging and gushing just a little about the whole experience.
The fun began on Tuesday evening, when we got to get all dressed up and attend the celebratory dinner-dance. Don's been wearing the uniform for a long time now, but I've never gotten to see him in the "dress" variation, so I was a little giddy over that alone. We had a tremendous time.
Wednesday morning was the graduation ceremony itself, of which I have no decent pictures. The Coast Guard Academy is so beautiful, and all the venues were appointed so tastefully, and uniformed people everywhere made for such an impressive display... but alas, between the rain and the kids and the general commotion, I failed as a photographer.
Amy, however, did not, and she gets credit for the next three shots, taken during the brunch we had prior to the ceremony. She actually captured the feel of the whole thing quite well.
At several different points during all these proceedings I found myself brought to tears, in moments when I realized just how tremendously blessed we are in all of this, in every little way. So to kind of sum up the experience for myself and to keep from rambling on too much, let me conclude with a (incomplete, I'm sure) list of all the thoughts and moments that have filled me with gratitude over the last few days.
-Christmas everywhere, from the poinsettias and music in hotel lobbies, to the gorgeous tree and decorations throughout the Academy.
-Invocations at each event, and an overwhelming sense of the presence of God among us.
-Kids who held up through a bunch of days and nights of being off the usual routine, dragged hither and yon, and made to sit still a lot. Not only did they hold up, but they were little angels and got all kinds of compliments on their nice behavior.
-It may have been rainy, but at least it was not cold.
-Sniffles that (knock on wood) got better when they could have easily gotten worse.
-The privilege of staying in a really nice hotel, dining in a ballroom, and otherwise living the life for a short while. Oh, and Starbucks in the lobby.
-Gold stripes and bars and the awe that comes with what those mean for Don's career and our overall success as a family.
-Uniforms, and the pride of being a member of such an important organization and serving the country with distinction.
-Dress codes, and how snappy a bunch of people look when even the civilians are dressed nicely.
-Having our families with us for this whole experience. We are so blessed to have a set of siblings and parents that we are so fond of and whose company we so thoroughly enjoy.
-All the support and help from our families always, but especially in these last few weeks of moving, traveling, and events that have required more favors and babysitting than we usually like to ask.
A really exciting future ahead of us...