Friday, December 9, 2016

A Major Promotion

We certainly started off our December in the right way with a family trip to Washington D.C. for a very special occasion. Uncle Johnny was being promoted to Major in the United States Air Force, and we were so honored to be there for his special day.

Grace was asleep when Johnny brought her a new stuffed bear, named Major.
Family photo opportunity before leaving for the Pentagon.
Mom and dad left a day earlier than we did, so Kyle, Grace and I made our way to the airport on the first day of December. Although we ran into a few bumps since our flight was delayed, we made it to the nation's capital fairly easily. We did miss the family dinner the first night, but after catching up on some sleep in our hotel room, we were ready for the big day.

Grace helping Uncle Johnny pin his rank on his flight cap.
We were SO honored that Grace got to be part of the ceremony.
The morning of his promotion ceremony, we enjoyed brunch with both my family and Emily's family, who had made the trip from suburban Chicago. While we were there, Johnny gave the littles (Grace, Zoe and Arlie), all blue Air Force bears.  We named Grace's "Major" in honor of such a special occasion. Then all 18 of us made our way to the Pentagon for the ceremony. I told Johnny he gave Emily the hard job of keeping all the rest of us together on the way there.

This little girl was SO happy to help and wear Uncle Johnny's flight cap.
This one is my favorite photo from the ceremony!
But we made it in good time, and after everyone got through security, Johnny gave us a tour of the Pentagon.  It was very impressive.  Kyle was immediately impressed by the upscale candy store in a shopping area. The tour included stops at many memorials to Pentagon victims, who died on Sept. 11. We even stopped by the chapel, which was very humbling.

All smiles with Grandma and Grandpa after the ceremony.
Smiles for Uncle Johnny too!
After the tour, Johnny took us up to the floor where his office was located, and we made our way to the ceremony. There were about 70 people there for his promotion ceremony, and we were lucky enough to have seats in the front row.  I took a lot of photos, while Kyle snuggled with Grace. One of Johnny's first bosses, General Wayne Monteith was the presiding officer at the ceremony, and he told some really great stories about him over the years. Johnny also asked that Grace be included in the ceremony, and she had a chance to pin his new major's rank onto his flight cap. Emily and both sets of their parents also helped with the ceremony as well.

The whole crew with Major Galer.
Major Galer and his family.
It was so touching that he included Grace in the ceremony, and she has gotten to be part of some really neat things in her five years. After she helped him, she got to wear his flight cap for a bit, and we got some cute photos.  Johnny and I even recreated a photo from when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant at the University of Illinois, and I was wearing his flight cap. 

I got to wear Johnny's flight cap again . . . 
One of the coolest things about meeting the people Johnny works with is that many already knew our story and they couldn't wait to meet Grace. It seems that she has touched so many lives in her short life, and we feel blessed that people continue to share our story.

After a cake and punch reception, we headed back to the hotel to rest and then back over to John and Em's for dinner.  It was nice to be able to relax some and just enjoy being together.

Snuggling with Uncle Johnny and her new Major bear.
This was the best photo we got of the three littles and their new Air Force bears.
On Saturday morning, Kyle, Grace and I walked around downtown Alexandria, and caught a Scottish Christmas parade before finding a quaint little restaurant for brunch. That afternoon brought a reception for Johnny and Emily, which was fun to meet more of their friends.

All too soon, it was time to head for home, back to reality. And saying goodbye was a little easier because we know we will see them again at Christmas time.  I'm so grateful that Grace is such a great traveler and so easy going, even when she's off schedule or in a new place.  We feel so fortunate for all the chances we have had to take her places, and hope to return to Washington D.C. with her again soon.  Until then, we'll always have the memories of a "major" fun trip.


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