It was a truly inspiring Saturday morning in Alameda this weekend; First Lady Michelle Obama was in town to commission the United States Coast Guard’s newest cutter, the Stratton. As soon as I heard America’s First Lady would be in my town, I jumped at the opportunity to be there and witness the commissioning ceremony. The weather was rainy and windy like you wouldn’t believe (I actually thought it might be cancelled – the weather was totally out of hand) but the event itself was as uplifting as it was historic.
Everyone at the event was soaked through – there was no escaping the rain! It was raining sideways and blowing most of the umbrellas inside out about 30 seconds after this was taken!
They were kind enough to provide everyone with plastic ponchos – fashion consciousness immediately went out the window as everyone tried to protect themselves from the elements.
The crowd went nuts when Mrs. Obama walked to the dais … She started her comments by saying what troopers we all were for being there in that storm – we could have said the same about her!
Captain Dorothy Stratton, who the cutter is named for, was the first woman to be accepted for service in the Women’s Reserve of the Coast Guard. She completed a phenomenal rise through the ranks (can you imagine the hurdles she faced?) and just one part of her legacy is that she created the name SPAR for the Women’s Reserve – she used the first letters of the Coast Guard’s slogan to make the name (“Semper Paratus” – Always Ready)
Her story is incredibly inspiring, even beyond her historic work and leadership in the Coast Guard – she worked at the International Monetary Fund, she was national executive director of the Girl Scouts – and she lived to the age of 107! How have I not heard of this woman before?!
It was really emotional, hearing the First Lady pay tribute to the SPARS who were in attendance on Saturday and also to our troops and their families serving now:
And it also got to me (military brat that I am and all) to see the crew filing onto the new ship, to see the commissioning itself, and to hear the horn blow for the first time as a fully-commissioned-cutter!
Thank you so much to the phenomenal Coast Guard in Alameda for letting me attend (and for educating me about the extraordinary life of Captain Dorothy Stratton) and thank you to Mrs. Obama for making even the rainiest, windiest, Saturday in memory one of my brightest memories all year.