The National Building Museum and the Commander in Chief's Inaugural Ball, destinationdc.com
History is a part of each of our homes whether we recognize it or not: Your family jewelry is still on your wrist, their china on your table, and their trophies in your library. As a family, we have those.
We also have the history we carry within our words and dress drawn from hundreds of battles, lives lost long before we came to be, silent offerings of respect for blood, sweat, and tears shed so that we can free... So that I could be lucky enough to live to watch these remarkable hope-filled moments unfold in Washington.
As the Commander-in-Chief Inaugural Ball approaches, I tend to be more wistful about the uniforms than my Husband can likely afford to be...
United States Navy, Officer's and United States Naval Academy Sabre
Something about the ceremonial sabers' presence...
Or the West Point India Whites uniform still moves me anew each time I see them.
When I pointedly asked Josh why the women's dinner dress uniforms looked like a waiters suit, he responded, as I imagine a manual or drill sergeant somewhere instructs, "They're military uniforms; they are not supposed to look good." This would be easier to believe if the men’s dinner dress were equally as unsuited to their figures and gender:
United States Navy Officer Mess Dress Uniform, Female, October through May.
United States Navy Officer Mess Dress, Female, tropical weight, May through October.
The term the Navy uses to describe the black-tie tuxedo equivalent is "Mess Dress," as you can plainly see. Hardly does it justice and moreover, when I see it on an invitation or announcement, as a civilian unexposed to military indoc, I cringe. Seems like: Show up sloppy! God, you're a mess and we love you for it, come on over just the way you are, Slugger! Seems there must be better term but history prevails.
At the Commander-in-Chief Inaugural Ball in Washington hosted by the Obama's, the guests will be turned out in such uniformed finery as you or I will ever see...
United States Army Officer, Dinner Dress
United States Marine Corps. Officer, Blue Dress
United States Marine Corps. Officer, Blue White Dress, summer
Unfortunately though, not everyone owns dinner or mess dress uniforms any longer. The nation has become more casual, and the military has kept pace; few people accept formal invites unless they are part of their professional obligations and even fewer want to stomach the cost of the mess uniform. My Husband has had one since he was commissioned. He wore this uniform when we married and due to deployment schedules always colliding with the ball dates, has had little cause to dust if off since. He also owns a tuxedo or two and I suspect the lack of other black and white tie uniform appearances causes him to don a tux rather than put on this beautiful uniform for civilian hosted events.
In recent times, this country has been remarkably kind, generous, and effusive in thanking our service people and I am hopeful that a return to an understanding of why they do it, not only that they do it, is soon to follow. For many, especially those of a more senior rank, these uniforms are an indication not of their career choice, but of their vocation. Often, we receive mail and initiations addressed to "Mr." and while my Husband understands this, I often think of my Father's annoyance early on when he received an invitation addressed to "Mr." rather than, "Dr." a prefix he worked thirteen years to earn. After a time, Dad gave up and accepted this was the nature of the world in which we lived (but he still never left his room in the morning without a shower, shave, and perfectly pressed clothing). I am always grateful when we receive a phone call asking for Josh's correct rank, it tells me people care enough about the pursuit of his lifetime, and of our family, to ask how the gentleman-officer is correctly addressed.
The mainstream presence of the uniform has largely disappeared in the civilian world. I will not speculate on the reasons, that is a job best left to the men and women who wear the uniforms of this great nation.
All I can say is that I am beside myself to be home in New York this week as this pregnancy nears end, and so wish I could be there to see this great man accept his office, and dance with my dashing Husband to celebrate such a day arriving, such a great hope coming to bear...
Incase you are addressing in future when I am more able to get out and Josh returns home once again, however, it is "Lt. and Mrs...."