…as I accidentally renamed the US National Anthem yesterday during a frighteningly routine moment of tripping over my own tongue. Yesterday also marked the day on which my husband graduated from college (or university, if you’re speaking UK English). Before anyone asks, yes, he is a little older than your usual graduate, but no less happy with his new lot.
I was unable to attend my own graduation ceremonies, so my first experience of one turned out to be at an American school. Aside from the numb bum caused by sitting near the top of the bleachers, I had an enlightening – and very proud – time of it watching Hubby traipse about in his cap and gown along with the other 200 people about to enter the big wide world of work. Mom-in-Law and Sis-in-Law were most patient with my barrage of questions (“Why’s he got two cords round his neck, did he do two degrees? Why is that person wearing a yellow one? What’s going on with the Masters programmes, are they always discipline-based? Are those my feet?”) and we all stood proudly (particularly our niece) when various family members were recognised for their contributions and sacrifices.
It was also the first time I’ve heard the National Anthem sung at a public gathering, which turned out to be surprisingly moving, bearing in mind I am not yet a proper citizen. There was, however, a small hitch in my personal proceedings: should I have been holding my hand over my heart, as everyone else was doing? Is it disrespectful for someone of a different nationality to go ahead and join in, or would it have been disrespectful not to? I eventually settled for holding the strap of my handbag, which I reasoned could be taken either way, but I’m still not clear on the correct anthem etiquette for a Legal Alien, particularly one pre-Green Card.
We also witnessed a new officer being sworn into the US Army, having his rank bars attached by someone special to him (his wife) and his CO and giving a silver dollar to the first non-commissioned officer to salute him, to symbolise his gratitude for the help and training his officers had given him. I really am a sucker for traditions, particularly ones that were born from good intentions.
It was a poignant morning in several ways, not least because it was the culmination of all my husband’s hard work. He’s a proper grown-up now. The afternoon involved celebration and good eatings, about which I have a few stories to tell you later…