Army recruit Sarah Bower stood in formation with about 150 of the military’s newest service members Wednesday night and swore an oath to serve her country.
She came away from the Lacey event pumped up, in part because it was a two-star general who swore her into the Army.
“It’s something you’re never going to forget,” said the 18-year-old Yelm High School senior.
Bower was among the invitees to the second annual Washington State Army Advisory Board’s Recruitment Enlistment Dinner. It recognized young people in Pierce and Thurston counties who are joining the armed forces this summer.
Most are about to graduate from high school.
The idea is to give the enlistees a boost to reinforce their decision to join the military at a moment when many of their peers are making plans for civilian work or college. Some enlistees brought their parents, who snapped photos and took videos as if they were attending a graduation.
“Our goal is to make sure (the recruits are) honored and make sure we show they’re appreciated in front of their parents,” said Charlene Joseph, who helped organize the dinner as president of the Captain Meriweather Lewis Chapter of the Association of the United States Army.
Community leaders, including Republican state Rep. Jan Angel of Port Orchard and Lacey Mayor Virgil Clarkson, toasted the recruits in a ceremony at Saint Martin’s University. Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 7th Infantry Division, led the recruits in the recitation of their oaths.
The recruits said they appreciated the gratitude they received.
“It’s warming,” said Shylique Harvey, 18, a senior at Spanaway Lake High School. He’s following both of his parents into the Army.
Army Reserve recruit Jonathan Dirk of Graham took heart in the rows of young men and women who joined him in swearing their oath. Some recruits wore dress shirts or cocktail dresses; most wore T-shirts representing the Army, Air Force or Navy.
Dirk will be the first in his family to join the military.
“It’s amazing,” said the Graham-Kapowsin High School senior. “It’s a good feeling to see people appreciate what we’re doing.”