A full 8 months after returning home from our Iraq deployment, our unit was notified to attend the Army Reserve's Welcome Home Warrior-Citizen Ceremony last Friday. It's a nice concept, designed to acknowledge the unique sacrifices we reservists/national guard folks make when going off to war...but it's also supposed to be conducted immediately upon the unit's return home, so as to have meaning. Stuff like timing has never deterred the USAR, naturally, so we found ourselves standing in formation (after 90 minutes of rehearsal!) in the Reserve Center's drill hall/gym, surrounded by soldiers sweating on the exercise machines while looking at us with undisguised amusement. (It's always fun to watch other poor schmucks having to stand in formation!)
Eventually, the Bird Colonel commanding the local Joint Mobilization Brigade showed up with his Command Sergeant Major (CSM) in tow. These were the same two who had chewed us out during our pre-deployment "incarceration" at Fort Lewis for wearing civilian clothing on the weekends after the training day was over. Needless to say this duo wasn't on our list of favorite folks, but at least on this occasion they were convivial enough. After our Ops Officer read a standardized script full of bland verbiage, we filed over to receive a folded flag encased in a triangular wood and glass box...which looked exactly like the cases for displaying casket flags...an eerie resemblance we all remarked on. We got a silver-colored metal plaque, engraved with our name and rank, and some flowery language about our wartime service, to attach to the front of the flag case. I've still got no idea where I'm gonna put this thing...For now, it remains in the trunk of my car, keeping my golf clubs company.