One man’s retirement ceremony

Yesterday, John and I were blessed to watch as Captain Adam Opava retired from the Air Force with over twenty years of combined enlisted and commissioned service. What fun it was to sing the Air Force song and to share in the fun with his family, friends and colleagues.

The ceremony involved organizational and personal planning. There was a beautiful printed program. The event took place in the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base. The head of protocol and the master of ceremonies organized everyone. Flowers were purchased for the women in Captain Opava’s family and charge coins for the special men. A cake was ordered and punch was made. Invitations were sent and travel arrangement made. But, in reality, very little was required to put on a marvelous celebration. It was grand.

As his last action on active duty, Adam conducted the reenlistment ceremony of his nephew to the surprise (and joy) of Adam’s sister. And, Adam’s remarks were great. He recognized and thanked everyone in attendance and we rejoiced with him. There was laughter and tears and so much fun. And, there was one unique characteristic of his remarks – he made no comment about his own career or accomplishments; he spoke only of his appreciation of others. He is truly a man of service.

As I sat and enjoyed the speakers and words, I was so glad that Adam and his command took the time and trouble to have this day. It was important.

  • Adam’s two children were recognized during the ceremony. They beamed for the photographer as they held certificates with their names written in fancy font. They laughed when the speaker told silly stories about them. And, they cried when their dad was overcome with emotion while talking about them. Those kids will always remember and appreciate this day.
  • Adam’s parents, long divorced and both having served in the military, heard others praise their son’s service, talents and faithfulness. Their faces glowed with pride. They deserved this event.
  • Adam’s friends and family got to hear of his accomplishments and contributions to the Air Force and its people. Their respect and appreciation of Adam and his children were increased.
  • Adam’s co-workers needed to say thank you and to share in the review of his service. Their respect for him was easy to see. But, the impact that today had on their own careers will never be known fully. Perhaps one decided to apply for the enlisted-to-officer program that Adam completed or will work harder at being the kind of single parent that Adam is.
  • And, Adam deserved every honor that could be given to him. He will reflect on the ceremony, trying to remember what he said during his own remarks. And, years from now, he will look at the pictures of today and he will be reminded of how important his service was.

We need to celebrate the accomplishments of our people. Never miss that chance to shake a hand and say “well done” or to attend that promotion or retirement event. Go to the birthday party. Send the anniversary card. You may never know what harvest God will bring.


“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.”   (Hebrews 6:10)

  6 comments for “One man’s retirement ceremony

  1. Bill Sheffield
    December 6, 2014 at 9:37 am

    You are so good at matching the scripture to the story

  2. Linda Foster
    December 7, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Having recently come to know that Adam is my nephew, I am very proud to learn of his many accomplishments and wish I had known him throughout his life. Congratulations on a life well lived so far. May God bless you and your family with happiness, health, and much joy of life.

  3. Rhonda Forest
    December 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Adam spent lots of time with our family during his growing up years. He and Ashley always had something crazy going on. I loved him as a kid and love him now. Always knew that he was special! He has proved that with his service to our country and with his love for God and his family. Couldn’t be prouder. Congrats on your retirement, Adam…now get to work! Thank you, Jill, for posting this description of the ceremony. I almost feel like I was there!

  4. Tracie
    December 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I was so honored to attend your ceremony!

    Date: Sat, 6 Dec 2014 15:35:24 +0000 To:

  5. Royal Connell
    December 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    You underline quite nicely what I said in Naval Ceremonies, Customs and Traditions. Ceremonies such as this are less for the honoree, than they are for the families, friends and co-workers. They do honor to the individual, but the attendees get to celebrate a service and see that hard work and dedication are respected by the bestowal of laud and honor. In fact the person who self-denigrates to the point of saying “Don’t go to any trouble over me” in fact is very selfishly denying others the chance to recognize the recipient, or to see that there is a benefit to service, and in the end actually cheapens the service and the award. Well done.

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