...and with that, I find myself in possession of a (comparatively) cheap sword engraved with my name.
After days of rehearsals, the SAF finally appoints me as a 2LT, bestowing upon me great trust and responsibility (although it only does so from the 24th of this month). Strangely enough, I don't remember any part of it at all. Everything just ran like clockwork, and before I knew it I"m walking back to my seat clutching a sword and scroll tightly to my chest with a dazed look on my face.
Walk down the stairs. Don't swing your arms. Don't clap. Once the guy in front of you marches up the stage, walk to the stairs. Halt. Walk up the steps, don't bounce. Halt again. Ok, they just called your name. Take 7 steps and halt in front of the BG. Good evening, sir. Hmm, he has grey hair. Wonder if he's retiring soon. He just handed the sword over. Stick hands out. Grip sword in left hand, curl inwards and hold tight to chest. Right hand guides sword inward so it doesn't obstruct when you swing your right hand. Extend right hand for handshake. Thank you sir. Sidestep slightly to the right, take 9 steps to the edge of the stage. Halt. walk down, halt. Walk to the first row of seats. Halt. Walk up the stairs, don't swing your hands. Reach your row, halt. Walk back to your seat. clamp your sword with your knees, lion head facing outwards. Relax.
I don't remember how loudly I greeted him or thanked him, or whether I returned his handshake firmly, or whether I remembered to smile as I walked up to him. When you're there, all you can see is the sword, gleaming gold under artificial light. It's tacky, but you can't help but be wowed by it as it is thrust into your hands. It may be cheap, but once you're back in your bunk and you draw the sword and hold it in your hands you start to feel the weight. Not too heavy to make it unwieldy, but heavy enough to serve its purpose: to remind you of the burden of command responsibility that's been pre-emptively placed on your shoulders by the G.O.H. that evening, and which will be symbolically placed on your shoulders by your parents in a weeks' time.
It's easy to be an officer. It's not easy to be a good officer. that is what really scares me now. Ask any soon-to-be-commissioned cadet if he is scared, and if he says no chances are he doesn't give a damn about being good enough for his post, for the SAF, for himself, and for the men under his charge.