Attending ceremonies – part of military tradition

  • Published
  • By Maj. Michelle Hayworth
  • 354th Communications Squadron commander
A couple of months ago, I had the honor of being the presiding officer for a Chief Master Sergeant's retirement ceremony from my squadron. 

Prior to the ceremony, I met several times with the Chief, to talk about what kind of ceremony he wanted. Every time he would say "Ma'am, whatever you come up with is fine," or "I'm not picky, you decide, but please keep it simple." 

I know he was saying this because he felt guilty about the unit spending a lot of time planning his ceremony, but quite honestly it wasn't up to him. We would make sure to honor his wishes, but we were also going to make sure we did the ceremony right.
I also remember telling him that I was nervous about presiding over the ceremony. I wasn't nervous because of how many people would be there, or who would be in the audience. 

I was nervous because we wanted to make sure the retirement ceremony was special for him and his family. This Chief had served his country honorably for more than 24 years and he deserved the very best. The day was all about him. 

For the Chief and other retirees, the occasion of their retirement is a day that will remain in their memories forever. 

First and foremost, they'll remember a long and honorable career serving our nation. They'll remember that family and friends were there to share in the bittersweet joy of the day. They'll also remember the emotion that comes with leaving behind their brothers and sisters in arms. 

Not only did I feel it was important to have a great ceremony for our Chief, but I also wanted to do it right for the Airmen in attendance. I wanted the memory of the day to not only live in the mind of the retiree, but also in the minds of those present who witnessed the emotion of the event. 

I was so glad to see so many young Airmen in the audience that day because they had a chance to be part of a great military tradition. 

It was part history lesson as we highlighted what was going on in the Air Force during Chief Holmes' career and the part he played in shaping the Air Force we serve in today.
It was also a chance to thank this Chief for everything he's done, and to say goodbye to a great Airman and wish him and his family the very best as they transition to civilian life.
I also encourage all of you to attend every military ceremony you can. We can learn so much about the Air Force and each other by participating in ceremonies such as promotion recognition, changes of commands, retreats, retirements, and Senior NCO inductions. 

Each one provides an opportunity to emphasize and build on the culture and pride we share as members of the United States Air Force. So the next time you hear about a military ceremony happening, get yourself on the invite list, or better yet--invite yourself. You won't regret it.