Promotions, Traditions and New Experiences

I’m an Army wife, but yesterday I was able to witness something I’ve never witnessed before – a promotion ceremony for someone in another branch of service. In this case, a Marine was being promoted. I love promotion ceremonies. They’re very happy occasions for military families. They offer an opportunity to recognize one’s achievements in front of their peers and, for the one who is being promoted, an opportunity to thank their fellow service members, leaders and everyone who has helped and supported them along the way.

I’ve never been to a promotion ceremony where the person being promoted hasn’t thanked their spouse (assuming they are married). And with good reason. A stable and functioning homefront, especially during war, has a significant impact on the service member. For the deployed service member, knowing that all is well at home, or is at least taken care of, gives them some peace while they’re away. Even in the face of extremely difficult times, military spouses, better than anyone I know, take care of business. This is one reason many of us feel that military spouses serve too.

At the promotion ceremony, when the Marine began thanking his lovely wife and daughter, I watched tears form in his wife’s eyes. I got a lump in my throat. I remembered when I was last in her shoes and my husband was thanking me for my support and love. At the time, any bad memory of difficult deployments, long separations, bad moves and stressful times faded away, as if they had never happened. In that moment, I was so proud of my husband for the man he is and the soldier he has become. I wondered what the Marine wife was thinking when her husband was singing her praises. I’m sure she was filled with pride and, like me, was saying to herself, "It’s so worth it."

I’ve been to dozens of Army promotion ceremonies, but yesterday, I witnessed something I’ve never seen at an Army ceremony. After the new rank was pinned on the Marine’s shoulders, he took the old rank and told the crowd that it’s tradition to pass the rank down to someone who will soon be promoted to your former rank. He called another Marine up to the stage, told him that his former rank had served him well and he handed the rank that he had been wearing for the past few years to the Marine who will soon be promoted. It was touching to see the torch being passed. I love that tradition. I love promotion ceremonies.

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • Sly2017

    Sooooooooo………..let me get this straight:
    You love promotion ceremonies?
    *skipping away through the trees and breeze*

  • I shall get you Sly. I shall…
    Okay, given that you’re trying to bring me over to the dark side, I will draw the line at divorcing my Soldier and marrying a Marine, but how’s this – I love “Marine” promotion ceremonies….
    You Marine wives…

  • You made me realize that I haven’t seen any of that … ever. Hopefully that will change when Jack Bauer gets home.

  • Hubs was just promoted last week. That particular tradition wasn’t part of his ceremony but another was. His new rank was given to him by a mentor (who wasn’t present but had sent the rank insignia with a wonderful letter to him prior to the ceremony).

  • Butterfly wife – I like the pomp and circumstance, like when they read the orders of promotion and everyone stands at attention. It’s a great experience, even when it’s not your husband who is being promoted.
    Marine Wife – Great story.

  • Juanita Gorgona

    So who was this? Does he get anything?

  • Sly2017

    “You Marine wives…”

  • ….are much too serious.

  • Sarah

    When my husband got promoted the first time, his commander “watered” his rank so it would “grow”…dousing him in a whole bottle of champagne. It was pretty cute, except for the fact it was February and really cold outside!

  • SeabeeSeniorWife

    I think one of the most moving ceremonies is when an enlisted person in the Navy makes Chief Petty Officer. There is a big distinction made in the Navy between a Petty Officer First Class and a Chief Petty Officer. The Chief Selectee goes through months of training to prepare him for initiation weekend. The initiation part of the weekend is usually for Chiefs, Senior Cheifs, and Master Chiefs only. The attendance at the weekends is amazing. Believe me, we’ve had to schedule vacation times around these weekend events. Obviously, as just the wife, I am not privy to all that goes on during the weekend but I know it forms a bond that is never broken. Anyway, the pinning ceremony is at the end of the weekend and the families are invited to that. I pinned his new Chief collar device on the one side and his dad did the other side. It was so moving, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place (and that included all the guys there). I am so very proud of my Senior Chief!

  • Great story, SeabeeSeniorWife. Thanks for sharing that.
    The last time my husband was promoted, I surprised him. His entire family (and it is big)flew in. His mother pinned one shoulder and I pinned the other. I think she really enjoyed being able to do that, and it was great having the entire family there.

  • Nice post :p
    Keep this up and we’ll have to think of some more exalted title for you than “the token Army wife”! :p

  • Sly2017

    “Keep this up and we’ll have to think of some more exalted title for you than “the token Army wife”! :p”

  • Mel

    Dh’s last promotion was very memorable as it was at the Pentagon and friends/colleagues from all walks his career happened to be around. Very nice to get caught up.
    Last month I had the opportunity to attend an Air Force promotion at the Air Force Memorial. Seemed similiar to an Army promotion, but the location was unbeatable! It was very moving for our friend and his wife!

  • my DH got promoted the beginning of august and that the first one sense weve been maried so neither he nor i knew that i was allowed to go so i was at home cleaning lol and here he was getting pinned and all. one of his high ups asked him wehre i was lol and he had to explain. it was funny to hear about that evening.
    -Semper Fi Forever-

  • Mariella

    A good friend of my was just promoted yesterday to Sergeant First Class in the Army and I was fortunate enough to witness the special occassion. Just like the Navy, being promoted from E6 to E7 is a big deal as the Noncommissioned Officer now reaches a Senior Noncommissioned Officer rank. This particular Soldier has been in the Army for less than 8 years and has been deployed to Korea, twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. I could not imagine how his family must have felt through all that. But like someone said in the blog, it must be all worth it. During this particular ceremony, The rank that was taken off was also passed on to another Soldier who is up for promotion so this shows that it does happen in Army promotions too, perhaps maybe not just as often.

  • liz

    Ive seen that many times…but usually its a private moment between the two soldiers.

  • Theresa

    Does anyone have advice of where they found invitations for promotion ceremony? I am trying to get it all together for my husbands ceremony. Army, lt col, if it matters/helps.

  • Nichole


    Have you checked You may find something you like there. I’m facing the same situation. Soon I will pin my husband…also LTC Army….and we are trying to get everything organized.

    Good Luck/

  • Guest

    You will not be able to park at the Pentagon. You can park at the mall across the street and walk (it’s a fair distance) or you can take the Metro, which lets out directly below the Pentagon. You will need to give yourself time to get in through the security at the Visitor’s entrance and then someone with escorting privileges will need to pick you up at the front entrance to get you a visitor’s badge. You can take a camera, purse, phone, etc., but it will be run through a scanner. Bring your driver’s license and another form of ID, and once you get your visitor’s badge do not take it off.

    The rest depends on your friend. Promotion ceremonies can be between 30-60 minutes or more, depending on the remarks being made. It will likely take place in a room that has seating, but don’t bet on it (I’ve seen more than one promotion ceremony at the Pentagon that was standing-room only, resulting in more than a few people blacking out due to the heat). Dress is usually business to business casual, but a good number will be in uniform.