My most awesome and beloved husband took command of a great group of National Guard soldiers on Saturday.
Following the change of command, the unit threw its annual Christmas party and I was impressed, delighted, and struck by some of the differences between the National Guard and the Active Duty Army.
The First Sergeant’s amazing and dedicated wife organized the party with help from a small group of regulars and created a real festive scene. There was tons of food–turkey, baked ham, roast pig, fried chicken, sweet potatoes, salad, arroz con frijoles, breads, pies, cookies, well…you get the idea. A local teacher and his band provided the entertainment–a mix of 70s dance music, popular latin numbers, and some Christmas classics. Besides the soldiers, there were unit alumni, junior cadets, the teacher’s class of “troubled teens,” and other community members.
Without the red tape of the regular rules and bureacracy, the party planners had more freedom to make the event work.
There were so many adorable children running around, playing on the castle bounce, making hand painted ornaments, and playing with new toys. The highlight for the younger set was Santa’s arrival on a Humvee!
I really got the sense that the soldiers and families love children as babies were passed from friend to friend, toddlers entertained, and older kids drawn into the singing and dancing.
Because not all of the soldiers had Class As, there was an interesting mix of uniforms and civilian wear on display, including a nehru jacket and a zoot suit.
With the vibrant neighborhood relationship and the obvious unit esprit de corps, I did not miss the regular army’s commitment to precision and uniformity.
Because National Guard members may spend their entire career with the unit, it was clear we were joining a close-knit family.
A lot of this also has to do with the community and how the armory is integrated into its urban neighborhood.
The one somber note came with a presentation of memorial plaques to family members of two fallen soldiers–some volunteers from the unit are part of a deployment to Afghanistan.
Even that sad note was a beautiful reminder of how much these soldiers care for one another.
I am proud to be a part of the family of this new unit and very proud of my husband’s service to our country.