Soldier graduations at Fort Jackson shows pride of family, love of country

FORT JACKSON, SC (WIS) - Every week, Fort Jackson draws in families from all over the country to celebrate the transition happening on Hilton Field, where men and women become to U.S. soldiers.

"Oh, here they come! They're coming out on the field now."

Linda Davis traveled from Wisconsin for grandson's graduation and can barely contain her excitement when she sees him approaching the field as the ceremony begins.

The proud grandmother is one of many family members making their way to Fort Jackson just for this very moment. Davis says the Army has been good for her grandson and a "journey of growth."

"I am just so proud of him and we have seen - since we saw him, yesterday, at Family Day - he has grown so much," Davis said.

Specialist Shavyry Martinez is a graduate from New York state. She says her Basic Training experience was somewhat unique.

"Well, I'm actually one of the oldest of my platoon. I'm actually 33," Martinez said. "Most of the people that enlist are about 18 to 21 so it was a very big difference of an experience for me."

An immigr ant from Venezuela, Specialist Martinez, says once she became a U.S. citizen she decided to enlist in the Army.

"I always had the interest to do something bigger than myself," Martinez said.

She says Basic Training is not an easy 10 weeks.

"So, it's rigorous early mornings," Martinez said. "From understanding how to fix your bed, to standing in discipline in military formation. It was a great experience - a hard one, a challenging one."

Mostly, this was an important experience as Martinez sets out to serve her country.

"Understanding that you are protecting the nation, your family and yourself and then how to play it safe," Martinez said. "Understanding your equipment and always just knowing that you're doing something beyond yourself."

It's an accomplishment she didn't always know was within her reach.

"I am an immigr ant from South America with family from the Caribbean's," Martinez said. "Never thinking of being a citizen and then you are a citizen and then being able to fight for your country was a big gesture for me, was a big thing."

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