June 21–More than 100 recent high school graduates in the Fredericksburg area pledged to defend the United States from enemies, both foreign and domestic, in front of their friends and families in the University of Mary Washington’s Dodd Auditorium on Saturday.
The enlistees at the fourth annual “Our Community Salutes,” sponsored by Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg, solemnly vowed to uphold the Constitution as they were recognized for joining the , Corps, or .
Speakers commended the young enlistees and their families for committing their lives–or at least the next few years–to the nation’s .
From family tradition to a sense of service or a desire for financial assistance with higher education, the reasons for enlistment varied.
Ashley Wilson of Spotsylvania County enlisted in the because she wanted to do something “bigger than myself.”
“I feel that it was the right thing to do,” she said.
Wilson hopes to work toward becoming a working dog handler while in the .
Callum Woodrell, also an enlistee from Spotsylvania, said he was really glad he and his mother attended the event. He intends to use the education benefits he’ll gain through enlistment for an education in theater.
His mother, Susyn, said the benefits of enlistment will go far beyond the financial.
“I know his initial thought was to be able to fund school,” she said, “but the experience he’s going to be able to have and the self-confidence he’s going to gain from this are priceless.”
Nearly every speaker at the event, from emcee Wesley Phillips Jr., dean of Strayer University’s Fredericksburg campus, First Sgt. Tony McCarty, Cmdr. Hallock Mohler, Chief Master Sgt. Manuel Pineiro, State Sen. Bryce Reeves and WWII veteran Dr. George Nixon, recalled their initial fear and excitement at their enlistment or commission.
Rep. Rob Wittman also delivered a keynote speech on the inspiring role enlistees play in the .
Nixon, a 90-year-old veteran of Patton’s who spoke at last year’s ceremony, gave enlistees his tips for success in the .
He encouraged enlistees to practice adaptability to their new surroundings and lifestyle; discipline; and positive relationships to stick with the “right crowd” that would help them succeed.
State Sen. Bryce Reeves, who served as an Ranger, spoke directly to parents and said the children they are “loaning” to the “are the substance behind any policy undertaken by this country deemed important enough” for combat.
“The fact that they stood up and said, ‘Send me, send me,'” Reeves said, “in these times of trials, tribulations and conflict speaks to their character.”
(c)2015 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.) www.fredericksburg.com/flshome
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.