Major General Jack O'Neill, the soon-to-be-former chief of the Department of Homeworld Security, approached the podium before his retirement ceremony had officially begun. This unusual event cast an instant hush across the assembled crowd . Jack cleared his throat as he leaned towards the microphone.
He tapped the mike before speaking "Is this thing on?" The sound reverberated through the stadium. "I guess so," he muttered under his breath. He bent back down, speaking into the mike as he waved at the crowd, "Hi! You're probably wondering why I'm up here speaking right now. But, see, this is still my command for another…" he fumbled with his watch, "hour and a half or so, and besides, the President said I could do this." His words and actions drew laughter from his audience, many of him knew him personally, or were at least familiar enough with him so as not be shocked by his antics.
An aide ran forward, readjusting the microphone so that it was positioned properly in front of the General. Now, finally standing up straight, Jack called after the already retreating aide, "Thanks, that's a lot better." Turning back towards the audience, he continued, "See, the reason I'm up here before the ceremony is there's something very important and special I get to do today, besides finally being allowed to retire." He paused for more laughter before looking down into the front of the audience. "Colonel Carter, would you please come up here."
Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter, who had been sitting in the stands with the rest of SG-1, cast a quick inquiring glance at her teammates. They clearly had no idea what was going on, and so she stood hesitantly and made her way up onto the stage. "Sir?" she inquired under her breath.
General O'Neill merely smiled smugly at her before continuing to the audience, "As most of you know by now, Colonel Carter served for the better part of a decade as my second-in-command on SG-1. Without her constant effort and support, I would not be standing here today." He thought for a moment, then continued. "Actually, without her I'm not sure any of us would be standing anywhere, but I know I certainly wouldn't be up here today. Since then, Carter has continued to serve, wherever and however she has been needed, not only the Air Force and our nation, but, as has recently been disclosed, the entire world. I was tempted to add tirelessly serve, but I happen to know personally that that isn't true. She's just never let herpersonal interests get in the way of duty."
"And that is why today of all days it is my very great privilege to announce that, under the orders of the President of the United States and effective immediately, Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter will be promoted to the grade of Colonel. It is also my very great privilege to be allowed to perform this promotion as my very last official act as an Air Force General, as promoting Carter to Lieutenant Colonel was also my very first official act.
General O'Neill's aide stepped forward. He handed Jack a pair of colonel eagles and, as the General turned away from the microphone towards Lieutenant Colonel Carter to change out her brass, the aide spoke into the microphone: "The President of the United States has placed special trust and confidence in the patriotism, integrity and abilities of Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter. Effective immediately, Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter is promoted to the grade of Colonel, United States Air Force."
O'Neill finished pinning on Carter's new brass, and the two officer's exchanged salutes. "Now, raise your right hand and repeat after me," he began. "I, insert name."
She smiled at him, the sparkle in her eyes his only warning. "I, Samantha Carter O'Neill..."
Jack paused for one very long moment, blinking slowly as he looked down at his wife. Then, finally, returning her smile with one of his own far rarer ones, he continued, "having been appointed an officer in the Air Force of the United States as indicated above in the grade of Colonel…"
Somehow, they managed to get through the Oath of Office without any mistakes. It was only much later, as Sam was changing out of her uniform and into the dress she could now wear to Jack's retirement ball, that she got a chance to really look at the new eagles resting on her shoulders. The brass she now wore were not new, but actually quite old and very familiar.