Renee Lawrence isn’t sure how she held it together.
Not only was she swelling with pride as her 18-year-old son, Wesley Broadus, was taking the oath to enter the U.S. Army.
Not only were her two parents, who both served in the U.S. Air Force, in attendance and beaming.
But the 41-year-old Lawrence, who serves as a commissioned first lieutenant in the Army Reserve, was the one delivering the oath — the first time that Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) officials in Cleveland can recall a parent swearing in his or her child there.
In full uniform and looking into her son’s eyes, her right arm up, she stumbled on a few words, but never let her rising parental emotions overcome her. Lawrence called the occasion — which took place last week — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“That moment was the culmination of seeing him not just as my son, but as a solider,” said Lawrence, who works as a cardiac cath lab nurse at Cleveland Clinic Akron General in Akron. “Having pride in the decisions that he’s made in life and the path he’s about to take, it was a heartwarming moment.”
The significance wasn’t lost on Broadus, either. He was caught off-guard when his mother showed up in uniform because he didn’t realize that she would be administering the oath.
“Being in the room by myself and the only one swearing in, that made it extra special to me,” said Broadus, a Firestone High School graduate who works now as a patient transporter at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. “It made it way more personal. Honestly, it was the best way I could have been sworn in.”
He also didn’t break down at the emotional moment.
“Oh no, I made sure to keep it together,” Broadus said with a laugh during an interview at the hospital.
He is heading Sept. 23 to Fort Benning, Georgia, for training.
Lawrence comes from a military family. Her parents, Timothy and Victoria Moran, served in the Air Force, and both her grandfathers were in the Navy.
She was born in Okinawa, Japan, and spent time in Utah, Illinois, Nebraska, Guam and Washington as the family moved around. She relocated to Ohio in 2007.
At the time, a friend and Army recruiter tried to get her to enlist. It wasn’t a difficult sell, as Lawrence had always had the urge to serve in the military. But the timing wasn’t right because she was a single mom with two young children.
Last year, though, Lawrence, who had married Russ Lawrence since then, enlisted in the Army Reserve. She would serve as a critical care nurse if called to active duty.
“It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream,” she said about her own swearing in. “The pride in the moment that I got to take my oath was indescribable.”
Lawrence was not surprised by her son’s choice to join the Army. He always had questions about the military growing up.
He decided on the Army, as opposed to the other military branches, after watching his mother enlist. (Her daughter Katelynn Broadus, 20, is a junior at the University of Akron.)
Broadus, whose father, Jason Broadus, served in the Navy and was born in Spain, isn’t certain about his future career just yet. The Army, he said, will help him get there.
If he decides to make the military his career, he’s interested in special forces.
“I want to experience as much as I can,” Broadus said. “I thought that the Army — the military in general — would be something to help my own pride, my self-esteem and especially my leadership, because I want to build up my own character.”
He said he’s both eager and a bit nervous to start his training. He’s especially excited about the prospect of traveling and exploring the world.
“I am someone who has a difficult time staying in one location,” he said.
“Everyone should get the chance to explore and see what they want to do,” he added. “Don’t just settle on one thing. Open your mind, you know. Go explore and see what else interests you. That’s what I’m going to do.”
© 2019 the Akron Beacon Journal
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