Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Wild Weekend

John being inducted into the Holland Club in Groton, Connecticut was a very big deal.  I really had no idea what it was about. There were so many aspects to this's hard to know how to tell the story.  I'm going to start with the actual EVENT... 

THE DAY WAS A STUNNER. 70 degrees, bright and sunny with a cool breeze and white fluffy clouds in a beautiful blue sky. The induction ceremony will take place on the deck next to the Nautilus submarine -- which is a permanent exhibit.  The Navy set up two large canopy tents for the audience -- with a couple hundred comfortable cushioned chairs. There was another canopy tent facing us with 27 chairs (all labeled) for the men who were about to be honored.

I was sitting in the front row -- John’s three buddies were right behind me. At 9:55, an Admiral arrived with his aide and sat in their reserved seats, also in the front row. At exactly 10:00, we heard bagpipes. The 27 inductees were following the kilt-wearing bagpipe player…and they walked in alphabetical order down the red carpet to their assigned seats. It started off very impressively…and just got better and better.

A young sailor, in his dress white uniform, sang the National Anthem and there wasn’t a dry eye on the deck. Then the man in charge of the SubVet organization got up and gave a speech about what it means to be a submariner. The special pride and bond these men have. During the first speech, I was watching the handsome YOUNG Admiral. He was nervous, and kept making notes and adding comments in the margins of his prepared speech. When the Admiral spoke, he talked about how these men were pioneers -- and about the role nuclear submarines played in the Cold War. His father was also an Admiral in the Navy…and some of the men being honored on this day served with him.

The heart of this ceremony, of course, was when each man's name was announced. As the SubVet guy read the man’s biography (John wrote his months ago and sent it in, along with a picture of himself as a 19-year old sailor) -- the Admiral presented each veteran with a packet and shook his hand, then posed for the official photo. The Admiral was warm and gracious to each man and his family members. Often, the grandchildren would rush up the aisle to see their Grandpa shaking the Admiral’s hand -- and the handsome young Admiral would smile and motion them in so the family members could TAKE ALL THE PICTURES THEY WANTED. He acted like he had nothing more important in the world than to treasure this particular moment. He was terrific.

After the ceremony was finished -- we went into the Submarine Force Museum.  If you ever get to Groton, Connecticut -- GO TO THE MUSEUM.  It is well worth a visit --  and I learned things I had NO idea about.  I was enthralled with the documentary film about the Bay of Pigs and the four Russian subs that came to Cuba.  I could have stayed there for the rest of the day.  But, after only an hour -- we had to leave because there was a reception... AND MY DATES ARE ANXIOUS TO GET THIS PARTY STARTED...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Rita.....we really have no idea what these men went through...and yes, I have tears in my eyes after reading your description...Thanks again.....Love You!!!