May 26, 2010

Once in a lifetime

Today I had the awesome opportunity to run away from real life and attend Air Force Academy graduation ceremonies with the Shaha family. What a blast -- literally! We roasted in the hot sun at 7000 feet, but we sure had fun together. (Many thanks to Garry and our last-minute babysitter, who made my impromptu outing possible.)

I love the grand and formal nature of the military. Everything they do exudes respect and honor, and the patriotism throughout the ceremony was quite touching. I sure feel more grateful for the sacrifices these great men and women make on behalf of our country.

The graduating cadets' processional was awesome. Here is video footage:

Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the guest speaker. His speech about duty was wonderful. And then 1,001 cadets were sworn in as second lieutenants in the Air Force and graduation ceremonies commenced. (That part took 90 minutes.)

At the exact moment that the graduates threw their caps in the air, Thunderbird jets screamed over the stadium. That began a 15-minute air show that was truly awe-inspiring! With heart-pumping music in the background and an emcee announcing the incredible F-16 maneuvers and formations, the crowd went wild over each of the jet's passes. Sometimes they were so close we could see details on the bottoms of the jets -- and the noise was deafening! Here are a couple of short videos, followed by photos of the Thunderbirds.

The Shahas have sponsored an LDS cadet for the last six years (four years at the Academy, plus two on his mission). I had met Jake a few times, but I loved seeing him in uniform and watching his family greet him with such love and admiration.

What a fantastic experience! Since we are moving away from Colorado, it was surely a once-in-a-lifetime event for me!
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