During his retirement ceremony Joe gave Kayla and me roses. I haven't been to many ceremonies, but I think that's a pretty traditional gift to present to your wife and daughter(s). But what do you give to your son? Especially a son who is only six years old?
I had no idea what Joe planned to give to Lucas, but I was sure he would think of something.
He presented him with one of his Military Challenge Coins.
A brief explanation for those not affiliated with the military: military members receive challenge coins for a number of reasons. The coins are minted with unit, squadron, command organizations and symbols and usually a motto. The coins are collected from various duty locations, TDYs, schools, deployments, inspections, promotions etc. Throughout the course of a 20 year military career a member will receive many, many coins.
Tradition is you carry one of these coins with you at all times ... because someone in the military can always 'challenge' you (typically at a bar) to pull out your coin. The last person to do so, or the person who doesn't have a coin, has to buy a round of drinks. I'm not sure how much that tradition is still used in today's military, but I'm sure the majority of military personnel have a coin in their wallet or purse.
So Joe gave Lucas the coin he was given when he received his line number to be promoted to MSgt. It was a special moment between father and son. Lucas doesn't yet understand the significance of receiving the coin, but he will one day.
Our days as a military family might end with Joe - who knows if Lucas will carry on the tradition. I asked him several weeks ago if he might join the military like his dad.
He thought about it for a few seconds and said, "Probably not."
When I asked him why not he said, "Because I have too many other things I already want to do!"