Xzayvier Burchard-Mease has always dreamed of becoming a soldier. Ever since he was little, a man in uniform always drew his attention.
Although Xzayvier is only 7, he’s already experienced a lifetime’s worth of pain. Xzayvier has a condition called knee flexion contracture.
This condition prevents Xzayvier’s right leg from fully extending. He’s had five surgeries to try to correct the problem since his diagnosis.
The surgeries couldn’t help Xzayvier, and they actually did more harm than good. One of the growth plates in Xzayvier’s leg was damaged during an operation.
If doctors can’t correct the problem, there’s a strong chance Xzayvier’s leg will have to be amputated. Of course, this would mean the end of his dream of becoming a soldier.
Xzayvier’s used to being told he can’t do things. He uses a walker to get around and needs help completing tasks other kids take for granted.
When Army Specialist Larry Harris met Xzayvier during his community outreach, Xzayvier immediately took to him. He ran inside to grab his customized Build-A-Bear to show Harris the camouflage color and the bear’s full fatigues.
It wasn’t until Harris talked to Xzayvier’s family that he learned the boy’s tragic story. Xzayvier’s parents told Harris he’d never become a soldier due to his leg condition.
It was then that Harris realized there was something he could do to help. He discussed his plan with Xzayvier’s parents, and a month later he put it into action.
Harris arrived at Xzayvier’s school one afternoon with an Army convoy, complete with a police escort. He poked his head into Xzayvier’s classroom and asked if he wanted to take a ride.
Xzayvier followed Harris outside, where he was greeted by a crowd of classmates chanting his name. He walked to the Army Humvee under a path of outstretched arms and encouraging voices.
Once inside, the escort left the school and made their way through traffic. All cars halted as Xzayvier’s parade passed.
Once Xzayvier and Harris got to the Army Reserve Center, it was time for the main event. Friends, family, law enforcement, and military members all gathered as Lt. Col. Melvin Bauman took the stage.
Bauman stated that he had never sworn in a boy of Xzayvier’s age, but he was honored to do so. He asked Xzayvier to raise his right hand as they recited the Oath of Enlistment.
After they were finished, Bauman declared Xzayvier an honorary soldier for life. Xzayvier’s mother got onstage to thank everyone as a tear ran down Xzayvier’s stoic face.
This was a moment that Xzayvier will remember for the rest of his life. For Harris, it was just part of the job.
Harris’ interpretation of the Oath of Enlistment includes the protection of this little boy’s dream. “I’m just thankful and honored that the family opened up to me — that they told me what was going on and actually allowed me to put this event together for him,” Harris told WZZM 13.
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