The military doesn't always get things right, but one thing that it does well is ceremonies.
Today I went to a retirement ceremony for a good friend - an Air Force First Sergeant who has spent the past twenty-four years in uniform serving his country. My friend is relatively young, and is, in fact, just barely two years older than my oldest son. And now he is retired and getting ready to start another career.
The ceremony, indoors at the base Club (formerly called the NCO Club in a different era) was a masterwork. The Club's ballroom was filled with his family, friends, peers, and a host of people in uniform, many of whom served under him. Awards, including some ribbons and numerous certificates of achievement and letters of appreciation, were presented, accolades were given, and the other First Sergeants marched into the ceremony in formation. (The Air Force calls First Sergeants "Shirts" - and their chief assistants are often referred to as "Under Shirts" - seriously!)
My friend's wife and son also received certificates of appreciation, stylish "thank you's" for sharing their loved one with the military for so many years.
The ceremony contained a prayer, a beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, the formal presentation of a flag which had also been used in the funeral of my friend's World War II veteran grandfather, speeches, laughter, tears, and a long receiving line that involved far more hugs than handshakes.. All of that was followed by food, glorious food!
When it comes to pomp and stomp, nobody does it better than the military!