Last week I attended one of the most beautiful graduation ceremonies I've ever seen.
Like all graduations, it was a time of great festivity, of grand celebration.
But in a very important way, it wasn't like all graduations. It was more than a graduation. It was also a commissioning service.
Last week my oldest son, already a graduate of Duke University, graduated from Officer Candidate School.
He is now an officer of the United States Navy.
My son. The baby I carried and cared for, the boy I taught to read and write, is not a boy any longer. Along with his classmates, he took this oath of office:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Here are some highlights from the week.
The night before graduation, the candidate officers hosted a reception for their families.
We were proud that our son was asked to read the toast to the POW's and MIA's.
There's always a table set for the POW's and MIA's, who are never forgotten.
Very early on the morning of graduation, families were allowed on base to watch their loved take a victory run.
The day was blustery and foggy and grey in Newport, but my husband and I were so grateful to be there.
One of our younger sons was able to be with us for graduation. Can you tell he's proud of his brother?
Today is Veterans' Day, a special day that is set aside to honor all the men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States. Of course, today is also Armistice Day, the day that the armistice ending World War I was signed, so other countries are remembering their veterans today, as well.
My son is not a veteran yet. So far he has served only 12 weeks in the United States Navy. But those 12 weeks have been some of the toughest of his young life. In the weeks to come, my son will learn to be a Naval Aviator. After his training is complete, he could serve nearly anywhere in the world--wherever the U.S. Navy sends him.
No matter the cost to himself or his family, he will fulfill the oath he took last week.
These days it seems to be rather popular to talk about all that's wrong with the United States. I see many people, especially on social media, scoff at our country. If those people are U.S. citizens, then our Constitution guarantees them the right to scoff.
At least on this day, though, I would hope that even the most scornful could understand that the rights they take for granted must be defended. And that defense doesn't come from clever Twitter posts or irate Facebook rants.
No, it's the men and women who have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution who will continue to ensure those rights. People like my son. May God protect and bless them all.