New recruits sworn in on Flag Day and Army’s 249th birthday

64 new soldiers take their Oath of Enlistment for the United States Army on stage at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. (Photo Steven Sandage, Clovis Roundup)

June 16, 2024 — Under the shadow of the Stars and Stripes and amid the echoes of historic valor, 64 new recruits stood tall at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Auditorium on June 14th.

This date, already significant as Flag Day, also marked the 249th birthday of the United States Army, adding a rich layer of tradition to the Swearing-In Ceremony hosted by the Fresno Army Recruiting Company.

As the clock struck noon, the auditorium teemed with excitement. Families, friends, and veterans gathered to witness a new generation of soldiers take their Oath of Enlistment.

The ceremony began with a special recognition: the promotion of Staff Sergeant Griffin to the rank of Sergeant First Class. Griffin, with 15 years of service since November 2008 and a deployment to Iraq in 2009, exemplified dedication, having been selected as an Army recruiter due to his exceptional service.

Following this recognition, the keynote speaker, Lorenzo Rios, CEO of the Veterans Memorial District, took the stage. Rios, a decorated veteran who retired after 23 years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Army, now dedicates his free time to working with Boy Scouts and local schools to develop youth leadership.

“It’s a proud moment to welcome you all to your house,” Rios began, his voice echoing through the Veterans Memorial Center built in 1946 to welcome heroes home from World War II. “Here, we believe in service, service to something much greater than ourselves.”

The audience erupted in applause as Rios invited all veterans in attendance to stand, acknowledging their service. He reminded the crowd that Clovis is a community that values support, protection, and gratitude for those who serve.

Turning his attention to the new recruits, Rios’s words were honorific, insightful, and sincere. “Today, we also celebrate you, our young Americans who are stepping forward to embrace the Army’s timeless challenge: to be all that you can be. I can tell you it wasn’t that long ago when I was a migrant worker, and I thought that was the extent of what I had. But here in the United States, opportunity is around every corner. We are so blessed.”

Rios’s journey from working in orchards to becoming a professor of international relations at West Point illustrated the boundless opportunities the military can offer. His speech, infused with personal anecdotes and heartfelt gratitude, emphasized the importance of the flag as a symbol of unity, shared values, and sacrifice.

“As this flag soars, so does our spirit. Undefeated and proud,” Rios declared. “As you take the Oath of Enlistment today, embrace the gravity of this commitment. You are not merely joining an institution but becoming part of a storied lineage of honor and valor.”

Following Rios’s inspiring words, the ceremony recognized those receiving advanced promotions before even stepping into basic training, promoting them to the ranks of Private First Class (Jasmin Hernandez, Dylan Villareal, Jovanni Manzo, Alexander Velasquez Nava, Andrew Thompson, and Jeri Neves) and those that received PV2 as well.

The moment arrived for the 64 recruits to take their Oath of Enlistment. Led by Captain Andrew Hater, each recruit repeated the oath with resolute voices, their futures intertwined with the legacy of those who came before them. Captain Hater then handed each recruit their certificate of enlistment, a tangible testament to their commitment.

As the ceremony concluded, the recruits and their families lingered, capturing the historic moment in photos. Conversations filled the air, blending pride, excitement, and a touch of trepidation as these young men and women prepared to embark on their new journey.

In a day steeped in history and tradition, June 14th, 2024, became more than just Flag Day or the Army’s birthday. It was a day that honored the past, celebrated the present, and looked forward to the future with 64 new recruits ready to serve their country with honor, courage, and commitment.