Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why My Children Will Attend Their Father's Promotion Ceremony

As most of you know, Rob gets promoted to colonel today. It has to be a duty day, and the only time we could schedule it was in the morning, so we're taking the kids out of school to attend.

Amber has had enough illness this year that her absences have tripped the school radar. The Vice Principal voiced concern that she would skip school for the ceremony. "You're not getting promoted, are you?" she asked Amber.

We live in a non-military area, and I guess many people here don't understand what getting promoted to colonel means to a family. I've been racking my brains this week to come up with a civilian equivalent. Making vice president of a company? Being sworn in as a senator or judge? Frankly, these are fabulous accomplishments and earned through hard work, but they aren't comparable in terms of scope of responsibility and impact on the family.

In his career, Rob has led hundreds of people--from the 17-year-old airman just out of training to the crusty master sergeant who had seen it all. He has been responsible for equipment worth millions of dollars. He has been in charge of the maintenance of a nuclear arsenal. He has written national policy that affects not only the Air Force, but the State Department and other national government agencies. Yet there were merely steps toward becoming a colonel. As a colonel, the Air Force is saying, "We trust you to do more."

The Air Force is also saying, "We expect you to give with more." He no longer has a say in his assignments; he will go where needed and when. The "three-year tour" was never a guarantee, but now, one year assignments are not outside the norm. Neither can he request his location. The Air Force can put him in charge of something he's never done before, and expects him to get up to speed and lead in days--maybe even fix a problem in a unit or procedure while he's at it. If someone under his command screws up, he can and quite possibly will take the fall. We've seen it happen to some very good commanders.

This is indeed the culmination of a career. Yet, unlike someone making vice president of a corporation, or superintendent of a school system, or judge, making colonel means more change, more uncertainly, more sacrifice. It is a new beginning.

It also demands more of his family.

This is an achievement for our children, too. Like many children of successful parents, they have had Dad miss events, not seen him for weeks or months at a time when he's on assignment, or had days where he's worked so long, they've only seen him for good-night kisses. Unlike most kids in the civilian world, they are asked to sacrifice personally. The two oldest have lived in two countries and six states. They change schools and leave friends every couple of years. They face uncertainty on a regular basis, wondering if Dad will be deployed or where our next move will be. And by standing with their father as he pins on colonel, they are agreeing to support him in this new phase of his career, and to pick up and start over where and when the Air Force sees fit, even if it means attending four high schools.

There is no way Rob would have come this far--or would accept this promotion and the responsibility it brings--without the consent and support of his children. In fact, we have known other officers who turned down promotion because they no longer wanted to put their family through the moves and demands of a colonel's life.

So, no, my children are not getting promoted. However, this promotion is theirs, too.


Caprice Hokstad said...

Your children have every right to be there and if school officials cannot appreciate it, then withdraw them from school! Okay, maybe you don't want to go that far, but school officials tend to think they're so important and indispensable and they are NOT. It's people like Rob who are indispensable. It's families like yours that have given us all the freedoms we enjoy. How horrible that you have to be in a "military community" to be recognized and appreciated for all that you have given us. How dare any American even suggest that any family member forego such an honoring ceremony in order to attend one silly math class (or even history)!

THANK YOU for all the sacrifices you have made. It's families like yours that make me proud to be American. Congratulations to Rob and all of you.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My father was career air force and flew C-130's, so I definitely understand the importance of today.

Daphne Of Argos said...

First off, Congrats to Rob for the promotion.

I think it's foolish for schools today, most who want parent involvement with the students, not to realize what an experience for the children this is. How many others can say that they have attended a ceremony for Rank Promotions. I have to agree with Caprice with who is indispensable in that respect.

Anonymous said...

The life lesson for your children, that with hard work and effort one earns recognition and honor is one that will remain with them long after rote responses to repetitive exercises. You and your children are also being honored for your sacrifice, aiding his service to family, country and the world at large. Brightest Blessings for each of you.

The Constitutional Crusader said...

My own family has a bright and storied military history, starting with the Revolution and continuing up and through Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as the conflict in Afghanistan. My cousin recently was made a Major in the Marine Corp. My grandfather on my mom's side served in World War II in the Navy, and my Grandpa Jim (my mother's stepfather) served in the Army. I myself would have gone into the Air Force if not for a bum leg.

First off, infinite thanks to your husband and your family for sacrificing so much for this nation and my personal freedoms. It's people like you who allow us to make this country great, and by so doing you make this country great.

Don't sweat the administrator. He's just one of those hall monitor types who never grew out of the role.

Karina Fabian said...

My thanks to all for your words of congratulations and support. I am forwarding them on to my husband and will share them with the kids today.

For the record, I'm not worried abut the VP. Like I said, I don't think she understands what this means--she probably thinks it's like becoming a manager at some company. Plus, it's her job to be concerned about absences. However, she did get me thinking about what this kind of promotion means to my husband and our family, and I wanted to share that with others.

In 4 hours, we will be Colonel Robert A Fabian and family. I am so proud of my man--and my kids.

Taylor Taylor said...

Congratulations! My husband is also in the military and we are so very proud of his accomplishments. Thank you and your family for their service to our country. God Bless!