WASHINGTON — Ever since he could remember, 19-year-old Miles Avery loved the Army and dreamed of becoming a Soldier. Miles attended the U.S. Army Birthday Festival June 10, in Washington, D.C., at the National Museum of the United States Army, where the Make-A-Wish Foundation fulfilled his dream to be a Soldier for a day.
Miles’ journey began during his freshman year of high school in the fall of 2018. After experiencing intense headaches that led to countless trips to various doctors and hospitals, Miles and his family learned he had leukemia.
Even though Miles’ life became more difficult because of his health, his strength and perseverance throughout his trials made him an inspiration to his family, friends and anyone who met him.
“Miles has always been one of those kids who doesn’t complain about what he’s going through,” said Deborah Avery, Miles’ mother. “He just puts his head down and struggles through it. Because of all that he’s gone through, and is still going through, I think it’s been really meaningful for him to have this opportunity.”
Along with his family, Miles traveled from Massachusetts to the National Capitol Region for the event, which included a visit to the Pentagon and meetings with top Army leaders like Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston.
“There is no organization on earth that can bring out the best in people like the United States Army,” McConville remarked during his speech. “You can be anything you want to be in the United States Army.”
Miles’ visit to the U.S. Army Birthday Festival included seeing Army vehicles and equipment, unique displays and demonstrations, and presentations from the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and the U.S. Army Drill Team.
Miles saw a performance by the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and watched as military working dogs showed their skills to the attending crowd. Afterwards, Miles was able to meet the Knights, the Soldiers and their dogs.
“I was just expecting to maybe meet someone from the military for an afternoon,” said Miles. “Now it’s turned into an entire trip to D.C., which I’m so grateful for.”
Miles was the center of attention during an honorary promotion ceremony to make him a Soldier for a day at the event. McConville and Grinston presided over the ceremony, conferring Miles with the rank of sergeant.
“We’re going to make Miles an honorary Soldier because he has proven that he knows how to overcome obstacles and never quit,” McConville said.
Miles, whose leukemia is now in remission, continues to battle his illness with a strength that embodies the Army’s qualities of resilience and grit. Miles’ admiration of the Army was returned by Soldiers and leaders as they learned of his courage and bravery.
“There have been many complications along this journey, but I’ve learned to just take it one step at a time,” said Miles, when asked how he’s kept up his incredible spirit. “But the biggest thing is that I have my entire family behind me to support me. I couldn’t have done any of this without them.”