Our Country Is In Good Hands
He stands tall and confident as he walks towards me. It’s hard to recognize him as he extends his hand, never breaking eye contact. He’s relaxed, confident, and at peace with himself, I barely recognize my nephew, Zachary McCormick.
Fourteen years earlier, I watched a four year old Zach play underneath the coffin of his mother, not really understanding his loss. I witnessed his revelation that his mother would never come back as he began to grow up and realize that he lost his greatest ally in life. His journey was a rough one, wrought with conflict and strife, to the point I was not sure if he would ultimately make it.
Today, at Fort Leonard Wood, Kansas, I watch 191 young men and women, our nation’s sons and daughters, march in with pride as their families and friends snap pictures and observe their newly minted United States Army soldiers take the oath and vow to unconditionally serve their country. As I witness the ceremony, I realize that the room is filled with “Zachary’s”, young men and women that have their own stories. Stories dripping with loss and tragedy. I know this, because the human condition is intertwined with pain and disappointment. Our lives are filled with doubt and regret, but we forge ahead anyway, because of the hope that our future can be better.
I’m impressed with the sense of hope that fills the room as the young soldiers hug and kiss their families. The room is bursting with pride and honor, a happy moment for many in spite of their past and the uncertainty of their future. On this day, 191 young Americans celebrate and prepare to deploy to the deepest and darkest corners on Earth to fight and defend our nation and for that I’m grateful and proud that one of those souls willing to sacrifice is my nephew, Zach.
Just a short time ago, Zach was a confused, bitter, and insecure young man, but not anymore. Today my eyes meet his and I can sense my sister’s spirit pulsating deep within his soul and I can see the confidence and peace in his expression. He’s come a long way and still has much further to go, but today there is hope for a young man that was willing to allow the U.S. Army to transform him, and for that, I’m grateful.
Zach’s journey is not so different than the thousands of American soldiers that went before him and the thousands that will come after him. I witnessed Zach’s transformation and I’m proud of him, but I’m also proud of the thousands of soldiers that are manning their post all over the world and for the ones that walk with a limp today because they sacrificed. We are all broken to some degree and we are all in need of transformation. To the young men and women of our armed forces that are willing to embark on their own transformation and face their inner demons and fight for our nation, in spite of their own personal issues, I say thank you. And to Zachary Peter McCormick, my sister’s son, I say, “Your mother is proud of you.”
I hugged Zach and felt pride course through my veins as I watch him walk away from me and towards his future. I scan the grounds and witness many other soldiers doing the same and I feel the twinge of hope for our country as I observe the next generation pick up where we leave off and I feel a sense of comfort knowing that our nation is in good hands, because as long as there are Americans willing to transform, our nation will continue to transform as well. God bless our soldiers.