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Promotion ceremonies not just about promotee

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Michael Murdock
  • 60th Operations Support Squadron
As we go through our busy duty days, there might be an accidental inclination to downplay the importance of some of these ceremonies, such as the promotion ceremony.

We should all remember that promotions are not automatic. To be promoted to the next rank requires supervisor recommendation and commander approval. Yes, the promotion rate to some of our lower ranks might be historically high, but a commander somewhere approved each promotion.

As the promotion order states, that commander's approval shows the Air Force believes in your abilities to perform at the next higher grade. It is a reward for hard work, dedication, discipline and sacrifice.

It is exactly the type of event that should be celebrated, yet many people opt to forego a promotion ceremony. They don't want to inconvenience others or to have a big deal made about them. While these feelings are understandable, these individuals have missed the point, this ceremony isn't just about them. Did that make sense? Stay with me for a moment.

Although the promotee is certainly the focus of the ceremony, I contend the event itself is as much about tradition and the attendees as the honoree.

It is military tradition to celebrate achievements, whether they are part of a team or an individual event. These celebrations take many forms and are intended to motivate others to excel and to perpetuate our values of service before self and excellence in all we do.

The promotion ceremony is no different. At this event, we will heap praise and recognition upon the promotee, hopefully in such a manner as to inspire the audience to strive for their own goals.

Through our recognition of the promotee's hard work and sacrifice, we not only remind junior members of the price to be paid, but reinforce the idea that these efforts are not in vain. We hope to encourage the promotee to continue to excel and strive for the next grade.

Commonly overlooked is the fact these ceremonies are as much about the attendees as the promotee. Let's face it: Rarely, if ever, are great accomplishments attained single-handedly. In attendance at the ceremony will be co-workers who helped the promotee with that big project, picked them up when they were down or helped explain the finer points of some technical issue. There will be supervisors who mentored, trained, educated and motivated the promotee, often pushing him or her to accomplish that which the promotee believed impossible.

Most importantly, there will be family who sacrificed with the promotee to help him or her reach their goals. Attendees have a stake in the promotee's accomplishments. They take just as much, if not more, pride in the promotion, for it validates their confidence and investment in that person.

Skipping the ceremony deprives these deserving individuals of an opportunity to share in the celebration of a great achievement in which they have played a major part.

I was lucky enough to attend a promotion ceremony recently where one of my senior airmen was being promoted to staff sergeant. The Airman was accompanied by his 6-year-old daughter, nicknamed Megatron. She looked up and asked, "Daddy, why are all these people here?" Before he could answer, I leaned over and whispered, "They are here to cheer your dad." I will never forget her proud smile.

The next time you or your coworker finally get that promotion, ensure a ceremony happens. Not only is it an important tradition that enables us to reinforce our core values, but also it is an opportunity to celebrate with and thank those who helped make the event possible.

None of these things are an inconvenience. So if you ever hear one of our young Jedi warriors mention missing or not attending their promotion ceremony, please remind them of these few words.