Saturday, April 16, 2011

Swearing-In and more

I have been meaning to write about our official Swearing-In Day for some time now, as it was two weeks ago already on the last day of our Specialist Orientation. In Main State's top floor diplomatic reception rooms, with an amazing view of the Capitol, the Washington Monument and all things essentially DC, we repeated the official oath that we had given on our very first day. That day most of us were exhausted, excited and stuffed into suits as we recited a quickie version which (we were told) enabled us to become official employees and - basically - get paid.

However, on this day, the "real deal," we were instead exhausted, excited, stuffed into suits and seated in these really awesome surroundings in front of our collected families and a list of notable State Department big wigs. (To see the text of our oath, I'm going to direct you to my classmate Heidi. Scroll down a bit to see where she posts our oath.) Tim flew out from Seattle for a long weekend for the ceremony and to start getting a taste of his new life. My in-laws, Don and Mary Hartford, came up from Richmond to complete my cheering section and it was fun to have such a venue as the backdrop.

We were in the Benjamin Franklin room specifically, surrounded by an awesome "can-we-touch-this?" array of American history, to include ole' Ben's writing desk and some really cool paintings of various Founding Fathers. Even the drapes were impressive! Our Orientation leader, Paula, gave the opening remarks to the assembled families, after she made us pinky-swear that we wouldn't make faces at her to crack her up. She pulled it off perfectly, doing a very a professional job as the Public Diplomacy Officer she is, and then it was Deputy Secretary Nides' turn. He was super. Besides being the shiniest brass we'd met so far (just under Hillary), he was also very "real" and joked about his teenage daughter and then told us that this was one of his favorite parts of his job: bringing fresh  meat (my words) into the Foreign Service and into the mission of diplomacy. He also said that out of all facets of business, politics and industry in which he'd worked, he thought that the Foreign Service people were the smartest. Yeah, that was pretty cool to hear.

We all stood to recite the brief oath and then tossed our caps into the air, no wait, that's not it, and then politely clapped and then in a choreographed bunch, moved over to take our group photo. Last time we'll all be standing shoulder-to-shoulder before being cast to the wind, sniff sniff. The ceremony was short, sweet, yet effectively patriotism-injecting.

By the next morning our Diplomatic Security commrades had packed up to move to their training center to the south. The rest of us will stay on at FSI and receive training in our specialties, some in our languages - some not - and by late April, the very first of us will start to trickle to the airport.

Tim and I spent the next two days visiting DC's sites and, as he noted, being signed into and out of secure buildings requiring various badges and codes. True true. But I think he liked it anyway.  (Sidebar: folks out here call it "Washington," but we know where the real Washington is - so I'm going to be stubborn and continue to refer to it as DC.)

1 comment: