Our Community Salutes
Reported by Sydney Shuler in The Daily Progress on May 6, 2023:
Recruiters, local veterans, friends and family members filled Lane Auditorium at the Albemarle County Office Building to celebrate 51 military enlistees on Saturday morning.
The seventh annual Enlistee Recognition Ceremony was held by Our Community Salutes of Greater Charlottesville to support the soon-to-be high school graduates. It was the first in-person ceremony since 2019, and a meaningful moment for students and their families.
“Everyone leaves emotional and in tears because all these kids are there — with their long hair that they’re not going to have much longer — and they’re shuffling in and I think: ‘Kid, in a couple of months this is not going to be you,’” Lettie Bien, director of Our Community Salutes, told the Daily Progress the day before the ceremony. A retired Army Reserve colonel, she also founded the Enlistee Recognition Ceremony.
It was a prediction that proved to be true for family of Chloe Rodriguez Thomas, who held back tears as they celebrated her commitment to the Marines.
“I’m excited for her,” said her mother Allison Rodriguez Thomas. “I’m so proud that she made this level of commitment. I think she wasn’t sure and I love that she’s thinking of purpose and that, as well, is driving her. So I’m incredibly proud and excited to see what she becomes.”