I always say that the best career counseling happens in the smoking area. Of course it’s a horrible habit that could very easily wind up killing me, but in the short term it provides me with a convenient forum to witness the uncensored opinions of soldiers.
This is not necessarily what I encountered today before the ceremony when I ducked out of the Russell building before the main ceremony. I was introduced to Master Sgt. Senta Mickle, an Army National Guard recruiter from Maryland. She is here at the invitation of Spc. Reynolds who is reenlisting today. Approximately 8 years ago, she was his recruiter.
Back at the ceremony, guests and staff were seated awaiting the arrival of the soldiers who are staged outside. The reenlistees had just finished being photographed in front of the capitol building.
The feature in the room that holds my interest is not the marble columns with their exquisitely carved caps, not the gilded ceiling, and not the carved and polished bench that I am currently sitting on. To the left side of the room stood a fifty inch plasma screen featuring a solitary soldier. The soldier was Staff Sgt. Patrik D. Ram, who was participating over live video from Germany. He and his father were unable to attend the ceremony due to the volcanic ash related flight groundings in Europe.
The coordination this took between Army commands locally and in Europe, and the technical teams on the Senate staff is a fine example of the leadership and dedication displayed by the event staff. By event staff I mean the guys who were actually working, not me. I just spent the whole week annoying the guests with smart remarks.
As for the ceremony itself, I will skip the details. I figure there were enough cameras in there that you can see it for yourself.
I followed the exiting crowds down into the basement to the Senate cafeteria. In the confusion of a strange dining facility, I found myself seated apart from everyone else. After finishing my burger and a brief search, I located a group of recently reenlisted soldiers milling about. I assumed that if I likewise milled, I’d eventually find my way to where I was supposed to be (come to think of it, as a blogger so long as I have soldiers to talk to, I can justify my presence just about anywhere. It’s sort of like validating parking).
I should know after 13 years in this Army, never assume. When the group moved out, I followed. I followed them across the Russell building basement. I followed them up the stairs. I followed them out the front door and around the capitol building. By the time I had followed them across the street and around the … I guess it’s a giant wading pool or something, but I wouldn’t use it unless they do something about those ducks … by that time I began to wonder where we were going.
As it turns out, the destination was the roof of a federal building. The plan was for 15 soldiers to recite individual lines of the Soldier’s Creed with the capitol building as the backdrop. Looking around, I counted 14 soldiers. I had been shanghaied.
Three “I am a warrior and a member of a team”s later, and now my mug will be featured at the 2010 Army Reserve Enlisted Dining Out. Let us learn from this experience; if you want to avoid being featured in videos, do not follow groups of soldiers without first learning their destination.