Every year, on July 4th, the United States of America celebrates Independence Day. It’s a day to recognize our freedom. We celebrate our founders, those who have given their lives, and those who continue to make it possible for us to call ourselves Americans. Patriotism, whatever that means for each individual, is at the heart of this holiday.
In a letter to Make-A-Wish, wish kid Antoine wrote, “I have always dreamed about meeting American soldiers and visiting a U.S. military base. I would like to become a soldier.” Battling bone cancer, Antione developed a passion for the U.S. military from his grandfather’s stories about World War II and the arrival of U.S. Soldiers in Belgium.
Antoine and his family traveled more than 4,000 miles to Fort Knox, Kentucky where he spent time fully experiencing the life of American soldiers. After being ceremonially recruited to the army, Antoine received his very own uniform.
“I am extremely happy. It’s a beautiful uniform,” Antoine shared. “It’s an extreme honor to wear the American uniform.”
From there, Antione held his own during athletic training with his fellow soldiers and got to perform a drill simulating a real-life combat mission! His life-changing experience continued as he rode in an armored truck and got to sit in an Apache Attack Helicopter.
Every soldier needs a hearty meal, so Antoine enjoyed lunch with his comrades in the cafeteria. It was a special moment for everyone when soldiers approached Antoine in the lunchroom to give him patches from their own uniforms to show their support for his bravery.
But the highlight of his day came when the U.S. Army surprised Antoine with a great honor: a promotion to an honorary second lieutenant!
Antoine’s time at Fort Knox culminated with a surprise meeting with General Henry L. Huntley and Major General Jefforey A. Smith. They each presented him with awards, and a special plaque that mixed photos of his grandfather’s time in the army, the inspiration for Antoine’s wish, with images of Antoine’s time as a soldier at Fort Knox.
His mother reflected, “It’s his dream. He has gone through very hard and painful moments.” Not only did Antoine’s wish journey provide a positive experience in the midst of dealing with cancer, it was clear that his time at Fort Knox put a smile on the faces of his new soldier friends.
From everyone at Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, we wish you a happy and safe 4th of July!
To read the full story of Antoine’s wish experience visit: http://oki.wish.org/wishes/wish-stories/i-wish-to-be/antoine-us-soldier