While I am a New Media volunteer for the Museum of Aviation, I still consider myself an outsider, especially in light of the ceremonies that take place at the museum. I have never dealt directly with the ceremonies, never set up, assisted, nothing. In fact, I avoided them so as to not be a distraction while on the grounds…until recently.
Mike Rowland, Curator at the Museum of Aviation, recently strongly suggested that I attend the Bronze Star Ceremony (for bravery in military service) of Tech Sergeant Barry R. Duffield. I took his advice, much to my knowledge’s delight! Having never attended a military ceremony at all, I was in awe the entire time.
The standards to which the Air Force servicemen and women in the audience conducted themselves impressed me. Their posture was incredibly straight, and they stood faster than anyone. At one point, everyone stood without a cue from the speaker. The surprise of having to stand and the agility with which the Air Force men and women in front of me stood nearly made me jump!
The ceremony was very patriotic, from the arrival of the official party – a ceremonious entrance of Tech Sgt. Duffield and other dignitaries – to the presentation of the colors, and the singing of the National Anthem. Everything was rigid, but proud, authoritative, and patriotically weighty! There was seriousness about the ceremony that commanded respect for the recipient, the dignitaries, the Air Force, even the U.S. and its military.
On top of all this, Major General James B. Butterworth, the Adjutant General of Georgia, was the presiding officer. Talk about an esteemed guest! He spoke a couple of times, and decorated Tech Sgt. Duffield, pinning the star upon Duffield’s lapel.
But no Air Force ceremony is complete without the enthusiastic hoorah of the singing of The Air Force Song! That in itself was incredible to hear. In a room of about 150 people, you felt like you were in the midst of a strong choir! Again, the service men and women stood their ground and stood out, singing vociferously so that I could pick out individual voices of people with their backs turned to me.
I arrived at the ceremony in awe, and I departed in awe. There is nothing like witnessing a military man receiving a prestigious award for bravery. If you ever have a chance to attend one of these ceremonies, I highly recommend it!
~Allison L. Boutwell