U.S. Army Specialist Larry Harris sees himself as something of an ambassador; the Michigan soldier likes to spend time hanging out in neighborhoods, talking to kids about his job, and acting as the face of the military for kids in Grand Rapids. And a couple of months ago, Harris met a young boy with a disability. That chance meeting would wind up changing both of their lives, according to USA Today.
Seven-year-old Xzayvier Burchard Mease has always wanted to be a soldier. Unfortunately, he knows that will never happen: he was born with Flexion Contracture said Xzayvier’s mom, Christine. It’s a deformity that causes his right leg to be permanently bent, causing him to have to use a walker to get around. He may very well yet wind up having the leg amputated. sooner rather than later.
“Xzayvier looked at me one day and said, ‘mom, can I have your leg?’ I told him that I’d trade legs with him if I could.”
When Xzayvier met Harris that day in September, the Army Specialist knew right away that the young boy was sincere about his desire to someday be a soldier.
“Xzayvier asked me to wait outside, while he went into his house and brought out a ‘Build-a-Bear’ that was wearing an Army camouflage outfit, very similar to the one I was wearing at that moment.
— UK Teddy Bears (@UKTeddyBears) December 3, 2016
He also realized that the boy was devastated that his dream would never come true. To Harris, the boy’s plight reminded him of the plight of his fellow soldiers and servicemen and women, some of whom have suffered devastating injuries, mental and physical, during their deployments.
Harris wasn’t going to let that stand.
“We have veterans that have been in war combat, and really need our help. This young man came up to me, and expressed his hopes and dreams. I decided that with all my power, I was going to help him. I wouldn’t be a soldier if I didn’t help him.”
The Specialist set a plan into motion: he was going to make the boy an honorary soldier. He made some phone calls — his commanders, the local police, Xzayvier’s school. Together, they planned a special day for the disabled boy — and worked furiously to keep it secret from him.
On Friday, October 14, Xzayvier’s day came. He went to school, thinking it was just another school day. A short time later, a convoy of Army Humvees left from a nearby Army Reserve Center, and made the short drive to Stocking Elementary School.
Noticing the commotion, Xzayvier and his classmates, with the permission of their teachers, went outside to check it out. There, the disabled 7-year-old found that the entire Army (at least, as he saw it), had come out to see him. There, his friend Larry, with the help of his commanding officer, led Xzayvier through the Oath of Enlistment, making him an honorary soldier.
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Beyond being made an honorary soldier, Specialist Harris’ colleagues gave an even greater gift to Xzayvier and his family: the local Shriners chapter, contacted by Harris, has paid for Xzayvier to go to Chicago next year for an operation on his leg.
For Zayvier, none of that matters when compared to what his new soldier friend did for him.
“Today, I became a soldier. It’s something that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
[Featured Image by PEPPERSMINT/Shutterstock]