When 40 members of the U.S. Army gathered to celebrate the birthday of 10-year-old Brennan Daigle, they had no idea just how much it would mean to him ... or to them. Daigle has cancer, a serious form of cancer that he's been fighting since 2009 and doctors say will likely take his life in the coming weeks. But he had a dream, and the soldiers gathered to make his dream come true.
The men and women of Fort Polk’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and members of the Louisiana National Guard surprised Daigle with a celebration beyond anything he could have ever imagined. While many boys dream of growing up to be athletes or superheroes, it's the military life that lies in this boy's dreams.
But they were dreams he would have never realized had these soldiers not intervened.
As Brennan has fought his fight, his mother set up a Facebook page -- Brennan's Brigade. More than 33,000 people have "liked" his site, and through it many military members from around the world have come to offer their encouragement and kind words. Word spread, and when a call went out to soldiers to help Brennan's family pull off this party, they answered.
When they gathered to celebrate Brenna's birthday last weekend, he was sworn in as an honorary soldier in the United States Army. They also gave him a coin symbolizing merit and achievement of excellence, a military jacket with his name on it and his own dog tags.
I can't even imagine how much it meant to Brennan and to his family to see him experience such kindness. Brenna's mother, Kristy Daigle, expressed her deep gratitude, telling the Fort Polk Guardian:
Words can never express what I felt seeing all those Soldiers there, knowing some of them had just come back from Iraq and still took time out for just one little boy. Just to know that they care enough to give their all, to give their love and support to a little boy is phenomenal. It says so much about our men and women who serve our country in the armed forces.
But even though the gifts they gave Brennan were amazing, the gift his courage gives others who know his story is even greater. As one soldier, Pfc. Kyle Frederick, told the paper:
It was good to be able to give back. It opened my eyes to a lot of things: How I take my kids for granted, how lucky we are, how we complain on a day-to-day basis and we really have it good compared to others.
Image via John Whitworth Photography/Flickr