FORT SILL, Oklahoma (April 23, 2020) -- Livestreaming of the 434th Field Artillery Brigade’s Basic Combat Training (BCT) graduation ceremonies is nothing new. It’s been done for about two years now, but with the ceremonies now closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic, livestreaming takes on a special significance.Online livestreaming has always been important because not all families and friends can make it to Fort Sill graduations, said Dave Johnson, Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) G6 livestream manager. A livestream graduation would typically draw 300 to 400 viewers. Since the closed graduations began a couple weeks ago, Johnson has noticed a spike in viewership.“We’ve about tripled our viewers,” Johnson said. For the graduation of A Battery, 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery, April 17, there were 987 viewers. The ceremony was archived and viewed more than 3,000 times.Command Sgt. Maj. Mario Lindsey, 1-31 FA CSM, said the ceremonies’ procedures have been modified for social distancing.Only three graduates were seated in each pew at Cache Creek Chapel; while in line to cross the stage the graduates stood six feet apart, and the mass oath of enlistment, which is recited in unison with the new soldiers standing shoulder-to-shoulder, was omitted.“Normally, when they cross the stage we would have the guest speaker, the battery command team, their drill sergeant and platoon leader shake their hand, but for protective measures we got rid of that,” Lindsey said.Despite no live audience providing cheers, applause or a standing ovation, and no hugs, handshakes and photo ops, each soldier took center stage and enthusiastically stated his or her name and hometown.Johnson said the live-stream techs have only made minor adjustments to the broadcasts.“We’re doing a lot more close-ups of the soldiers because we want to make sure the families at home can identify who is on the stage,” he said.CeremonyIn his invocation, 1-31 FA Chaplain (Capt.) Amos Uwadiae said: “Lord God … bless all these graduating soldiers, bless and protect their families wherever they are right now, heal this country and the entire world of this deadly disease, coronavirus.”Capt. Aleksandr Pawluk, 1-31 FA commander, welcomed the distinguished guests and the viewing audience.“These soldiers would not be here today if not for the undying love and support of their families and friends,” Pawluk said. “I applaud you all, and I ask that you continue to support your soldier throughout their military careers.”Pawluk congratulated A Battery’s 195 soldiers of Class No. 22-20.“I extend my gratitude to you for the sacrifices that you’ve made during a time of crisis,” he said. “By taking this courageous step at a dangerous time in our history you have truly set yourself apart from our fellow citizens.”Afterward, Pawluk explained his BCT class began normal enough Feb. 11. It was about week six when major changes were implemented because of the Coronavirus.“Most of the adjustments revolved around spacing (of the trainees),” the captain said. “For chow, we began moving them out of the DFAC (dining facility).” The DFAC staff prepared the hot meals and put them in travel containers; then the meals were consumed at outside locations. It’s a method that’s also used during BCT when trainees can’t make it to the DFAC.The brigade also placed hand washing stations throughout BCT batteries; and trainees sanitized their bays and living areas at least once a day, Pawluk said.The trainees adapted very well to the changes, he said. Trainees provided their input on comment cards during after action reviews after each phase of the training.Their comments reflected their understanding and maturity of what was happening and why; and how the battery was still providing the best training despite the pandemic, he said.Guest speaker Lt. Col. Aaron Bright, FCoE Directorate of Training Development and Doctrine’s Operational Training Division chief, provided the graduates with advice that he gave to his new Soldiers at a Multiple Launch Rocket System battalion a year ago.First, being offended is a choice and you get to decide, Bright said. “Too many times Soldiers get into trouble … because they allow someone else to be in control of their emotions, so take the high road when you can.”“Second, I expect you to get smarter everyday,” Bright said. He relayed what Marine Gen. James Mattis told Marines: Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.Go to the Army Education Center and enroll in classes before friends or circumstances talk you out of it, he said.Third, get better at your job everyday, Bright said. “What I’m telling you is that even if you right now don’t want to be an NCO or officer some day, your life gets better when you actually put forth effort in anything you do.“But if you want to trip through life doing everything half-way because you don’t have the patience to look like you know what you’re doing, then do it after you leave the Army,” Bright said. “In this job someone’s life depends on how thoroughly you live yours.”Fourth, be observant of the world around you, he said. “If you have a better way of doing something say it. If you get shot down don’t worry about it, and for God’s sake don’t be offended.”And fifth, make someone else smarter and better at their job every chance you get, Bright said. “If you think something is wrong with the people in charge … you have two options: Complain about it, or become a leader yourself and be the opposite of what you despise.”During the ceremony, Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Brandon Briggs, A/1-31st FA, was recognized as the Drill Sergeant of the Cycle for his outstanding professionalism, competence, and dedication to standards.