BALTIMORE - As soon as the new rank was adorned on his shoulders, Maj. Micah Ramseur reached for his wife, Janine's hand. He began to speak, then stopped abruptly and made a beeline toward his 7-month-old daughter, lifting young Michyla in the air and carrying her back to where he originally stood.
"I prayed to have her," he said, kissing the child again and again as she clung on.
So, on the biggest day of his military career, rather than talking about the duties and responsibilities of a major, Ramseur gushed about his family. That's just like "Mikey," they said. On the biggest day of his life - the day he often talked and dreamed about as a child - Ramseur didn't talk about what it meant to be a major. He gushed about what it meant to be a family man.
Less than two years ago, this wouldn't have been possible. Then a captain on active duty, Ramseur was so focused on making the rank of major - considered by many to be career-defining accomplishment in the Army - that he often neglected his family. It was only taking a step back and returning to his roots that he finally had both.
A logistics officer currently on active duty orders with the Maryland-based Army Reserve's 200th Military Police Command, Ramseur was promoted to major Nov. 24 in front of a host of family and friends as well as well-wishers.
"(This) was a special moment. But the fact that I was promoted to major at home meant a lot more to me," he said.
Whereas the Micah of previous years would have accepted the promotion and probably immediately returned to work, "Mikey" stayed behind and mingled with the dozen family members. The former Capt. Ramseur would have made the promotion about career advancement, but Maj. Ramseur recalled that promotions aren't often about the Soldier - they are about the family, who support them throughout their growth and journey. He might previously have identified with his rank, but Ramseur is now "daddy" before and after work.
The steps he took to arrive at this happy medium were many. In the beginning, when the career-driven Ramseur first joined the Army's active duty, his focus was on professional development and the next rank he could attain.
As a geographical bachelor on active duty, Ramseur filled his days with the work of a company-grade officer. There was his assignment as an aide-de-camp in which he relished. He was also a part of a special recruiting staff that would, in his mind, propel his career. In between work and the sporadic phone calls to family, he worked out, focusing solely on being the officer he dreamed of being as a kid.
All that changed when Ramseur didn't make the cut for major the first time around. Suddenly, a career so central became less so. Ramseur saw his getting passed over as a sign, and decided to leave active duty to spend more time with family, particularly his own son, now 8, whose big milestones he had been missing.
"I was so career-driven, always so focused," he said. "It was all about how I looked professionally, the next step in the career ladder."
In pushing his career back for his family, and making the incentives in his life not based on the rank he carried or the assignments he got, Ramseur said he found more fulfilment and learned to appreciate the things that may not put him on the fast-track as an Army officer, but profoundly rewarding nonetheless.
"I got to walk my boy to school in the mornings," he said. "It was pretty awesome. My wife was in graduate school, so I got to be Mr. Mom."
Though he said he understands why young officers and non-commissioned officers often push themselves to accomplish more than they already have in the Army, Ramseur said it is just equally important to focus on the family.
"When I am at work, I am Maj. Ramseur," he said. "But when I go home and before I go to work, I am dad.
"The Army will always be there," he added. "There will always be somebody to replace you."
What can't be replaced, however, is the family he lovingly dotes after. While on terminal leave from active duty, Ramseur found out that, despite the long odds, he and his wife were expecting a daughter - something his sister, Jamie, said he looked forward to because he had three sisters growing up.
"She's his little miracle," Jamie said. "I think growing up with three sisters motivated him to have one."
Holding the miracle in his arms, surrounded by family and with the new ranks on his shoulders, Ramseur flashed with a smile. In letting go, he'd earned the rank he'd always wanted. In embracing his family, Ramseur returned to his roots.
"I think I've come full circle," he said. "This is a very special moment for me."