I am a back-sitter. I like to sit in the back of any given event so I can take it all in. I look around, catch people being human and it only enhances my experience of an event.
Last night was no exception. I sat n the last row in the auditorium at GN’s high school where I observed her squadron’s award ceremony.
It was lovely, but the loveliness began even before the ceremony’s official start. GN had to arrive early, because she had left the tab to her uniform in her gym locker and needed to run and get it before she got demerits for incomplete uniform. I dropped her off at the door and told her I would head to the auditorium and meet her after the ceremony.
Because we were early, I got to watch the Color Guard practice the presentation of the colors . . . twice. I got to watch one young cadet pace nervously. It turns put he was in charge of the Color Guard and he wasn’t pacing nervously, he was practicing his role in marching the Color Guard to the stage. I got to watch the honored guests gather at the back of the auditorium and greet each other like the current and former soldiers they were. The veterans represented different conflicts, different branches of the military, and different veteran organizations. I got to observe my granddaughter getting help from one of her peers to affix her shirt tab properly, which is hard to do with the uniform coat on. I watched parents come in, find seats and then lean close to each other so they could talk. I watched the two NCO’s make the final preparations of the award table. All of the activity was very touching and made me appreciate the event even more than if I had missed it.
The program began with the presentation of the colors. The Color Guard did a flawless job. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the colors remained posted during the ceremony and afterward for photos.
There was a long list of awards: 45 categories of medals and ribbons. Most of them were exclusive to third- and fourth-year cadets, but it was good to see what GN’s upper classmates had accomplished.
One recognition worthy of note was to the entire squadron. It was decided by the JROTC headquarters that the squadron at GN’s school was the top organization in the country.
GN received ribbons for Good Conduct, Service, Sports and Scholarship, and Uniform.
The award for which GN had been in the running was the Superior Performance Ribbon. I was told that no Freshman had ever been awarded that medal. GN had been decided the winner late last week. She did not know it.
But . . . human is as human does. A last-minute decision was made to give the award to a Junior, because of a late-breaking incident in the school life of my teenage housemate. I got a recorded phone message that GN was marked absent from her 4th period class. When I asked GN about it, she told me that she had, in fact, skipped the same class the day before, but never got caught, so tried it again the second day.
Where was the AWOL cadet? What class had she skipped? What was she doing with her freedom?
She skipped her home room period to attend a second lunch in the cafeteria so she could raise funds for the Cadets Against Cancer team that will be participating in a walk-a-thon at the end of the month. While her intention was admirable, her method was less than superior performance because of her deception.
I knew ahead of time that she was taken out of the running and GN was only informed about being in the running when she was taken out. I don’t condone deception, but the larger issue for me was that she was unaccounted for in a large metropolitan school and if there had been any security issue, she was not where she had led people to believe she would be. That is a safety issue from my perspective.
True to her genial nature, Goodnight did not let that cloud her evening. She had taken care of the appropriate apologies to her teachers earlier in the day. She applauded whole-heartedly when members of her squadron walked across the stage for their awards. She peered across the auditorium to smile at her gram when she received her own awards.
GN is fifteen. She will make many more mistakes in her lifetime. I don’t expect her to keep track of the foibles she racks up. I expect her to learn from her mistakes and accumulate skills to keep her on a path of integrity. I reminded her not to strive for any given award, but to strive for the characteristics regarded exemplary by virtue of the award criteria. That way, win or not, she will have admirable traits and be a responsible citizen.
So . . . the award went to someone else last night. Am I disappointed in my granddaughter? Nah. She just wanted to raise money for cancer research to save other kids from being motherless from the disease that took her own mom.
Her ideology is admirable. Her methodology needs some tweeking.