Some time ago I read in the paper that the United States Navy was planning on commissioning a new guided missile destroyer here in Seal Beach, the first commissioning at Seal Beach ever. I clicked the link for more info and sent in my name. I thought it would be really neat to take my Dad to see this piece of history, then I sort of forgot about it. Well, some time in January or early February, I got the official invitation and up to 6 RSVPs. Well, you know me, I sent in for all 6 tickets, called my family, and we made plans to go!
Fast forward to the week before the commissioning. John has been working like a dog lately and really wanted a day off – totally understandable. My sister thought her friend Dianna might enjoy it, so I invited her in John’s place. Our party would consist of Gramma and Papa, Auntie, Dianna, Mom and Melody. Gramma and Papa were staying with us that week and we made our plans in eager anticipation. Then the weather forecast predicted rain. Lots of rain. If it rained, not only would it be uncomfortable and unfortunate, my parents felt they could not go and sit in the rain. I can’t say as I blamed them. We watched the weather almost hourly and on Friday night they said if it wasn’t raining in the morning, they would go.
We all went and were prepared for a downpour with 5 umbrellas for the six of us and two of those umbrellas were large sized ones. There was a bit of rain, nothing heavier than a shower, which lasted on and off for about an hour. The Dewey was beautiful in her bunting and flags. The Navy band serenaded us when it wasn’t raining, and the crowd was robust in spite of the weather. Melody was fascinated with everything, from the flags they handed out to the big ship in front of us!
Right before the speeches started, at about 10:58, the sky cleared and there was no more rain for the rest of the day. We could not have asked for more! The various speakers were not long winded and in fact gave interesting and inspirational speeches. Most impressive was the moment the ship sponsor called the crew to “bring her to life” and take all operations on line. Seeming from out of no where, sharply dressed sailors in their black uniforms, white hats and gloves, ran past the audience and onto the ship. They lined the rails, outlined against the blue-gray sky, like sentinels guarding the castle. When they were called to attention, every man and woman snapped sharply to salute as one person. It was a display of military precision I had never before had the honor to witness, and I was proud to be present for it.
Of course, it occurred to me that any one of those sailors could one day be a recipient of one of my care packages. The most recent recipient was from DDG 93, and most people don’t know that many of the early forces in Afghanistan and Iraq were Navy men and women. The moment of commissioning was for me, a validation of all we are fighting for and all I do to let our troops know we wish them a safe and speedy return home.
There are photos in the gallery, courtesy of Auntie Kat, and here’s another little clip of Melody being cute.