A Sol­dier’s Fresh Re­cruit

Reader's Digest - - Everyday Heroes - BY JU­LIANA LABIANCA

ARMY SPC. LARRY HAR­RIS was do­ing com­mu­nity-out­reach work in Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, when seven-year-old Xza­yvier Bur­chard­mease rushed up to him on the side­walk—only to rush back into his house to col­lect some­thing to show the sol­dier. It was a stuffed bear dressed in full cam­ou­flage, just as Har­ris was. Xza­yvier’s life dream was to be­come a sol­dier, his par­ents ex­plained. “They told me that be­cause of his leg con­di­tion, he’ll never be able to,” Har­ris said to WZZM 13.

Xza­yvier’s con­di­tion is called knee flex­ion con­trac­ture, in which one’s leg—the right one, in Xza­yvier’s case—fails to straighten at the knee. Am­pu­ta­tion was a real pos­si­bil­ity, his par­ents told Har­ris. That was all the sol­dier needed to hear. He started to de­vise a re­mark­able plan.

A month later, in Oc­to­ber 2016, Har­ris poked his head into Xza­yvier’s class­room and, in front of his class­mates, asked the sur­prised boy, “Do you want to take a ride with me?”

Out­side the school, a con­voy of po­lice cars and Army Humvees was wait­ing. It es­corted him to the Army Re­serve Cen­ter, where, with fam­ily, friends, and mil­i­tary and law en­force­ment per­son­nel look­ing on, Lt. Col. Melvin Bau­man (Ret.) asked Xza­yvier to raise his right hand and “re­peat af­ter me.” They re­cited the Oath of En­list­ment. When they were done, Bau­man stated: “On this 14th day of Oc­to­ber, you are now an honorary sol­dier.” The room erupted in ap­plause as a tear trick­led down Xza­yvier’s cheek.

“To­day I be­came a sol­dier,” Xza­yvier told WZZM. “It’s some­thing I will re­mem­ber for the rest of my life.”

The man who made it all hap­pen, Spc. Larry Har­ris, said that his ac­tions were sim­ply part of his job de­scrip­tion. “When I took the oath, I swore to pro­tect do­mes­tic and non­do­mes­tic,” he said. “And that means pro­tect­ing the dreams of a child.”

Newly minted honorary sol­dier Xza­yvier Bur­chard-mease, seated in front of the flag, with Army Spc. Larry Har­ris at his left

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.