When last we talked, dear reader, I (Andrew) was waiting to join the Foreign Service. Like a road trip with no speedometer, I had a predictable destination but an uncertain timeline.
The folks at the State Department’s Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM) have been working tirelessly to solve a range of logistical and legal issues to allow me and my classmates to join. Foreign Service Orientation, commonly referred to as A-100 and named for the room in the State, Navy, an War building where it the class was first held, has never been held virtually before. And swearing an oath of office for government service virtually hasn’t been permitted until very recently. But GTM and the team at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) have innovated at lightning speed to onboard us and move forward the State Department’s mission of advancing the interests of the American people.
Today, I swore my oath of office and officially joined the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer! It’s not the first time I’ve sworn that oath, and I take it very, very seriously. The swearing in happened remotely, using Microsoft Teams. It was halting and awkward, but no less meaningful.
The swearing of the oath calls to mind the time that I stood aboard the flight deck of the Coast Guard Cutter Munro and swore the same oath to join the US Coast Guard. As then, the oath is one of devotion and implies the ideas of service and self-sacrifice. Those doing the swearing give up some measure of freedom so that others may retain a full, unmolested measure of the same.
The road ahead remains uncertain, but it’s the uncertainty that I’ve been expecting. As disappointing as it was to not join the State Department at the Main State building in Washington DC, , my swearing-in was boiled down to its essence. With all the trappings stripped away, all that remains is my oath. It’s deadly serious, it’s beautiful, and it’s sacred. It ends with a divine supplication, and I don’t doubt that I’ll need the assistance. So help me God – I’m a diplomat.