A Titus resident was chosen to participate in an Army ROTC National Commissioning Ceremony on Friday.
Second Lt. Jesse Benton was selected for the honor when he wrote a biography about growing up in Titus with a family that is deeply rooted in serving in the military.
His work was selected as the best in the state and region before selected as one of the top 10 biographies throughout the nation.
Benton’s presence at the event represented the Army ROTC program of the University of Alabama, his alma mater, as well as the country’s 6,000 ROTC graduates.
Benton credits his family and where he grew up as the reasons he achieved his goal of becoming an officer in the Army.
“Dating back to 1860, my forth great-grandfather started this family tradition (of serving in the military),” Benton said.
Benton said numerous family members have served from the 1940s to present time.
“Through the years my grandfather fought in World War II,” he said. “My father and mother are both military. I have an older brother who is a colonel and another brother who is a sergeant. I have aunts, uncles and cousins serving. The list goes on and on.”
Beyond the influence of his family, Benton said living in a small community on a farm taught him valuable lessons he has relied on for his success in the Army ROTC program.
“Growing up on a farm, there is always something to do,” he said. “I really learned the true value of hard work and it is something that was instilled in me at a young age. There is always something to do and there is always room to improve.”
Benton also credits Edgewood for giving him experiences that influenced him to join the Army.
“Playing sports at Edgewood filled a spot in my heart,” he said. “I really do love the team atmosphere and helping people succeed. After graduating high school I really did not know what I was going to do. I was pursuing a nursing degree and I did not feel like I was serving my purpose. I wanted to be part of something greater than myself. I’ve just wanted to make a difference and this goes back to the team atmosphere I love so much.”
Maj. Gen. John Evans, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command, said in a statement this historic event is intended to showcase the excellence of all of the new officers that will participate in the ceremony.
“I’m honored to recognize these Americans who are the embodiment of People First — each has stepped up to selflessly serve their nation and wear the colors of the United States Army,” Evans said in the statement. “These outstanding patriots, who are dialing in virtually from across the country, are the authors of stories written by hard work, sound ethics and unshakeable integrity — but during the ceremony they will come together with a united goal: to serve as a United States Army officer.”
The virtual ceremony took place at the Pentagon Friday and is posted to the Army ROTC Facebook page. The event was symbolic because Benton was commissioned virtually in May from his home.
“It was emotional,” he said. “When I raised my right hand, everyone I wanted at the ceremony was there. It did not matter to me when or where, as long as those people who are important to me in my life are there.”
Benton will serve part-time in the Alabama Army National Guard and has future plans to pursue a full-time post.