The time has come for my son’s newest journey to begin. Will it be a journey of a 1,000 miles? Will it be full of twists and turns? Highs and lows? Wherever Zachary’s journey takes him, he will be the one to tell his story. I knew when he took the oath on November 20, 2018, that he was beyond committed to his decision. I know he will always hold true to the values of being an American soldier, while carrying with him the lifelong honor of being a National Guardsman.
In the beginning, there was a will and he found his way. He knew that one day he would pursue his goal of joining the National Guard. At the age of six, his grandfather, a Vietnam Veteran, took him to visit a National Guard recruitment center. This left a lasting impression on Zachary. Fourteen years later, as a transfer student attending Bridgewater State University, he noticed from a distance a National Guard recruitment tent. It was here that he met Sgt. Chadwick, who became a recruiter, a supporter, mentor and friend.
At the entrance to the tent there was a pull-up bar and because he is one who is fully committed to health, fitness, and wellness, he wanted to take on the challenge. He completed 22 pull-ups in front of the soldiers, while they shared encouraging words and spoke respectfully of their recent commitment to serve.
The road ahead for a new soldier
Throughout his experience, he will face a multitude of challenges. There will be a need for intense and focused observation along with attentive listening, repetitive practice and most importantly, personal perseverance. He will endure fatigue, caffeine withdrawal and suffer the consequences of physical and mental exhaustion. He will encounter demanding situations that test all aspects of his abilities. He will experience moments of loneliness and solitude, joy and sorrow but through it all, he will “embrace the suck.” His accomplishments will be earned in stages and correspond to the colors of the American flag.
Long live, the red, white and blue.
How he decides to handle the tiredness, stress, and phases of physical and mental anguish, is all him. How he celebrates and honors his personal successes, is all him. What he chooses to do next with his newly acquired set of skills and talents, is all him. Supporting his decision to take a semester off from college to grow, challenge and better oneself is extremely admirable, don’t you think? As his mother, I think so. Parental pride is one of the best feelings to experience and when a positive life experience has the opportunity to be shared and passed on to the next generation in a family, hip, hip, hooray!
His new home for the next few months will be approximately 927 miles away from his home in Hadley, Massachusetts Who would have thought an American citizen born abroad, raised half of his life in a bustling multi-ethnic city and the other half in a small rural town, would join the Massachusetts National Guard? Well, folks, our son did!
Preparing for service his whole life
Zachary is one who puts his goals into action. In order to best prepare for his commitment, he met frequently with his recruiter. He inquired, read the material, asked questions and dug deep into his soul to make sure that his commitment was the best fit for his future plans and goals. To give back, to lend his helping hands are just a couple of his personal mottos and joining the National Guard is just one of the many ways he chooses to serve his country.
Our son’s hands-on experience since his younger years has taught him well. His active involvement in service at home and at school enabled him to save endangered sea turtles, feed the hungry, skip rope for cancer, advocate for juvenile diabetes and serve meals to the homeless. Like you, I agree that all of this is commendable.
Serving on a larger scale
As humble as he is, I admire how he gives so willingly and freely of his time. He is one who never asks for anything in return except for continued support to similar causes and that his goodwill and respect for all be carried on. While the National Guard is a type of service on a much larger, global scale, we know that he wouldn’t have it any other way.
To give freely of oneself is a captivating quality. Some might ask, why serve? Why would someone want to give all of themselves for their country? The answer: Only the individual reciting the oath and accepting the challenges of becoming a soldier will be able to explain their reasoning.
A simple request from a military mom
Our son has started his new phase of life, leaving for boot camp this month. I have a few requests, which I do not think are too difficult to accept. As our son begins to share his story about being a soldier, please listen. Whether he laughs or cries, salutes or stands, remains at ease, shares smiles or a frown, be appreciative and grateful for his service and all others who choose a similar path. And if you are willing, offer a piece of you, like a firm handshake, an embrace, a smile, and most importantly, a thank you.Read comments