Growing up I was taught that the shoes that I wear on my feet are mine and that no one can decide where I go but myself. I have raised my son James Burt the same exact way. We have raised him to not be fearful and that if you want something to go out and get it, no matter how hard the journey is.
At the age of 3 years old, our son looked up at us and said “ mommy and daddy I want to be an American soldier when I grow up”. At that moment we knew that he was going to protect this amazing country someday and do it well.
As the years flew by, we often wondered if that simple little statement made by our 3 year old so many years ago would turn out to be true. We can remember the day like it was yesterday. Our 3 year old was now 17, returning home from school and asking us to go with him to visit a Recruiter for the Army National Guard. As we all sat in that tiny little room, so many feelings set in. From being scared, to nervousness, to sadness and then finally pride. People often questioned why or how we could let our son join the Army. Once again we have said, “ his shoes are his and he will be the one that decides his journey “.
Fast forward a year to the day he left for basic training. It was one of the hardest days in our small family's lives.
As we sat in a small white colored room and listened to how things were going to go, it had finally sunk in that after almost 18 years with our son that he would be away from us for 6 months. You start to question to yourself, how are we supposed to get through our daily life without him here. And the answer was simple. These are his shoes, his journey and because of him and so many others, so many peoples journeys will be a free and peaceful one.
As the letters started coming in from him, we could hear the scared little boy in him. We told him that when he feels scared and alone to look down and find the footprints of the soldiers that were there before him and that those footprints were left as a path for him to follow. We had also told him to leave some of his own footprints, because the soldiers that come after him are going to need something to follow when they are feeling the exact same way.
We believe that life is never handed to you easily and you can’t always do it alone. You need others as support to see you through to the finish line. If it wasn’t for the footprints left by others, we wouldn’t have anything to follow. So when you're feeling lost, look down and follow the path that was left by so many before you.
One final thought... We walk in our shoes everyday. Some have an easy path and some have a difficult one. Our troops make our path a free one.
We are extremely proud of our son James Burt and his decision to serve this beautiful country. We stand beside him, always.
Love, Mom and Dad.