The Girls Promoting Me to Major

So everyone knows by now that my daughters and I do everything together.  Baking involves having my trusty frosting testers available.  Hiking means more than just walking in the wilderness, in that one girl is usually on my shoulders and the other is in a carrier backpack.  And a nice, quiet trip to the zoo involves me answering endless questions on why animals look and act the way they do.  It is the way our family works and I love it.  So why would my big promotion be any different?

And yes, I did pick out their outfits.

So getting promoted from Captain to Major in the Army is kind of a big deal.  Not only is it really the first officer rank that requires more than just a pulse and an unblemished record, but there is a serious leap in duties, responsibilities, and expectations.  In fact, it is such a big deal, my parents came out from Northern and Southern California just to be there for it (which meant a lot).

“CPT Calkins is pretty awesome.  Let us hope that MAJ Calkins does not @#$% up too much.”

Lieutenant Colonel Black, the 309th Military Intelligence Battalion Commander (and my boss), explained this change before I actually got pinned with my new rank.  He particularly emphasized the increase in expectations, both in knowledge and performance.  My favorite part of his introduction was a very accurate comparison between the rank of Major and that of Second Lieutenant (the first rank in the Army) about these expectations.  “The gold ranks suck.”  Well said, Sir.

Fact: The whole room laughed after Elaina punched my rank.

After the introduction, the orders were published, and Elaina took center stage and promoted me to Major by putting the gold oak leaf on my chest.  She followed up by softly punching me in the case, which is an old Army tradition that was well-received from those in attendance.  I then got a huge hug from my girls, because I could not believe that we had made it this far and that they were able to participate in this important event.

The best part of the whole event was when I got “huggles.”

But this was not according to the original plan.  As per our numerous practice sessions, Gabriella was going to rip my Velcro CPT’s rank off and throw it on the ground (again, according to Army tradition).  Elaina was going to then move in to do her part and pin the gold oak leaf on my chest.  Gabriella got a little stage fright, so LTC Fearnow, my former boss, tried to help her out a little, but unfortunately to no avail.  Elaina still came in and did her part though, because she never shies away from the spotlight.

“We did it!”

Afterwards, I got my big hugs from my girls.  Gabriella was still a little emotional, not wanting to let go; I had to begrudgingly hold her hand and walk her back to her seat so the ceremony could proceed.

The hardest part of the ceremony.  “Repeat after me…”

The next part of the event was administering the Oath of Office, which is done every time an officer commissions or moves up in rank.  I asked LTC Fearnow to give me the oath, as she had helped to get me promoted and prepared me for my current job.

Whew.  Finally got through that.

We both got a little tongue-tied near the end, because even as officers, sometimes “speaking words is hard.”  At least we gave everyone a bit of a laugh.

“His promotion speech was inspiring, articulate, and all the jokes landed perfectly.” -Anonymous

The cliché promotion speech followed.  Thanked my superiors, parents, mentors, and co-workers.  And then I thanked my girls and told them why I do it.  “Everything, from getting up early to do physical training to working hard to help other Soldiers improve, I do for you.  Everything I do in my job is to help me to be a better father and to give you a better life.  Everything I do in my life is for you.”  As per the norm, hugs and kisses followed.

Taking my Iron Major vows very seriously…

In a flash, we were all eating Jimmy John’s sandwiches and cake, talking amongst family, friends, and colleagues, wondering where the last hour had gone.  It was a nice promotion ceremony and I am happy to finally be a field grade officer.

Why I do it

Even though this promotion was more about me than most of the other things I write about, it would have been worthless without my daughters participating in it.  And frankly, Elaina would have likely gotten upset with me if I had not included her.  The point is that even for events such as these, we do everything together as a family.  I could easily have had a five-minute ceremony with little to no fanfare, but it truly would have been meaningless without my daughters by my side.  That is just how we do business and I would not have it any other way.

Thanks for checking in on us.


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