Growing up, I thought my Dad was the meanest person ever. It felt like I spent a lot of my time being punished for something every day. As I got older and matured, I began to understand that he wasn’t punishing me. He was teaching me important life lessons. He was teaching me respect, humility, courage and integrity; important values I will hold onto for the rest of my life.
I remember at Family Day after graduating from Basic Combat Training, I walked up to my Dad, shook his hand, then hugged him and thanked him for everything that he had done for me. He didn’t know what I was thanking him for at first but when I told him that if he hadn’t instilled these morals in me and helped me develop my other attributes about myself as a young man, I would not have survived BCT.
When I think about myself as a role model to others, I realize that I have never thought of myself that way.
If I am to be remembered for anything, I hope it is for the respect I show all people. One thing I believe this world lacks but that my children nor my Soldiers ever will, is respect and appreciation for all people, no matter their appearance, beliefs, or rank/title.
I was given a strong moral background and the encouragement to do great things with the life I have been given. I have my parents and the Army to thank for this and I plan to continue sharing these values with those around me while encouraging others to achieve beyond even what their own goals might be. The Army gives us many opportunities to sharpen our attributes, to become better than what we thought we could even be, but it is up to us as individuals to make the right choices to make that happen.
About the Author: Ira Leslie II
Ira, an Active Guard Reserve Army Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), serves as an Operations NCO with the Reserve Component Directorate at United States Army Cadet Command (USACC). He is the local race director for the annual “Travis Manion 9/11 Heroes Run” in the Fort Knox, Kentucky area because he believes in the TMF’s mission to support the families of fallen military, veterans and first-responder heroes.