ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — Dozens from the Rockford community spent part of their Memorial Day giving a patriotic send-off to a graduate headed for Advanced Individual Training in the Army.
For most high school graduates, the weeks after finishing classwork are spent figuring out what’s next.
Steven Elkowitz made that decision last year, when he enlisted in the United States Army Reserve.
When he left for basic training last summer, his family was able to throw him a party.
This year’s send-off to Virginia for AIT was going to be a lot less celebratory, given current circumstances.
Until his mom took to Facebook to ask for the community’s help.
“I just wanted to do something special for him just to let him know we’re all supporting him,” Jennifer Elkowitz told News 8 Monday. “I put it out in some Rockford Facebook pages and the response was amazing.”
Before she took her son to the recruitment office in Grand Rapids, the entire family drove through the area to see people lining the streets with flags, signs and heartfelt gratitude.
Each person was there to thank the 18-year-old for his decision to serve.
“I think it shows how great of a community Rockford is, how they all came together like that for me,” Steven Elkowitz told News 8.
The added significance of leaving on Memorial Day is not lost on Steven, who said he was inspired to join the Army because of family members who also served.
“All four of my grandparents were in, my great-grandpa, couple of my uncles and great-uncles and then my dad was also in the military,” he explained. “It makes me remember a lot of the people in my family who have served and just everybody in the military who has served or is serving right now.”
Monday’s turn out brought extra comfort to his mom.
She couldn’t be more proud, but she also can’t help but worry as a mother. Basic training was about eight weeks. This next step will last nearly four months.
“It just is nice because you feel like you’re not alone. Several of the people told me, you know, ‘If you need anything while he’s gone, just let us know. We’ll be here for you.’ Strangers who I don’t even know,” Jennifer Elkowitz said. “So it was just really comforting that other people are supporting him and supporting our military.”