A soldier committed fiercely to both country and family convinced his superiors to grant him leave just in time for his mother’s wedding.
U.S. Army soldier Zaykeese Riley held strong to his conviction that serving his country was of the highest priority.
Stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia, Riley knew he would have to miss his mother’s wedding in Houston, Texas, to attend training.
His mother was deeply disappointed that Riley would miss her big day, but she was proud of her son’s service and supported him in every way.
Riley’s mom raised her two boys as a single parent, and the three of them share a close bond.
“On the day my mother was going to get married, I hadn’t seen her in about six months,” Riley said in a video interview with USA Today.
“I’m serving in the United States Army and I was at basic training in AIT (Advanced Individual Training).”
He said his mother was “devastated” at the thought of her son being absent, but she was very proud of his commitment to the Army.
“But I love my country,” Riley said. “I love my country. And I really really want to serve and be willing to sacrifice everything for this country because I love it so much.”
Following his grandmother’s advice, Riley wrote a heartfelt letter to his chain of command, explaining how important it was for him to attend his mother’s wedding.
Riley’s superiors loved the letter and agreed to let him take leave.
Riley and his family got to work planning the perfect way to surprise the bride as she stood poised to walk down the aisle.
As his mom stood in her dress, Riley was quietly standing behind her.
There was a delay, leaving Riley’s mother to wonder what the hold up was all about.
That’s when Riley walked up beside her to escort her down the aisle, causing his mom to break down in sobs.
“When my mother was walking down the aisle, the videographer gave her Q-tips so that she could wipe her tears without messing up her makeup,” Riley said.
“But whenever she saw me, those Q-tips did no effect on the makeup.”
Now that he’s in the Army, Riley is especially thankful for every moment he can soak up with his family.
“It was a big blessing to be able to take a break and just be reminded of what I’m fighting for, which is my family,” he said.
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