Army major credits Graham upbringing for his success
I had the privilege of being promoted to major in the U.S. Army at the Pentagon this month. This moment was decades in the making. My journey has taken me around the world. Three foundational years of it were spent as a teenager in Graham.
My parents relocated our family to Texas in 1995. Dad had been a longtime friend with Alvin Creswell. In the aftermath of the national recession of 1992, they decided to work together in oilfield salvage. I was a Florida teenager, who had never seen a pump jack.
The people of Graham embraced us immediately. Mom quickly found community among a homeschool support group. The congregants of Faith Center embraced us. The change of pace from Central Florida, to North-Central Texas was a bit of a culture shock for me and my brother. It set the tone for the men we have become.
I learned the value of hard work digging up flow pipe in 110-degree weather. I learned to drive, pulling a pipe trailer up and down highways 16 and 67. My brother and I were introduced to the study of music by Ben Holdridge at Graham High School. I was not a sports fan, but enjoyed watching the Steers play on Friday nights.
During my last year in Graham, I had my first college experience at the former Ranger College campus on Cherry Street. Mrs. Roach taught the importance of being early on the first night.
In 1998, I left Graham for Lee University in Tennessee. It was a bittersweet time. Thoughts of what lay ahead were exciting. Leaving the community I had come to love was tough.
The people of Graham had molded me from an awkward teenager into a young man with potential. People like Stacy and Edith Sconce, and Ken and Sandy Weimer had listened to and mentored me through the inevitable moments of awkward transition during the latter teen years. Men like Dan Langford offered work opportunities that helped Dad provide, and me to save for college. I made great friends along the way, many of whom I am still in touch with.
The Young County Teen Court program offered the chance to practice public speaking. In the final weeks before I left for college, the members of the Young County Bar Association were kind enough to offer a scholarship check to help with book expenses. The people of Graham had welcomed me three years earlier. Then they unreservedly encouraged and equipped me as I prepared to depart into the unknown.
I left Graham 19 years ago and have only been able to make it back twice to visit. The town and people still hold a place in my heart. I often say that the most formative years of my life were spent right there in Young County, Texas.
All these years later, I have a family of my own. I have taken my kids around the nation. I regret that I have not been able to give them the Graham experience. It’s something I treasure.
Dad and Alvin have now passed. The days of digging pipe out of the ground are far removed from my duties as a military leader. That legacy still shapes me, and will always be a part of my story.
To the people of Graham who invested in me all those years ago, thank you. I have not forgotten. You will always remain a valuable part of my story.
Editor’s note: Maj. Chase Spears is an Advanced Civil Schooling Fellow at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He lived in Graham from 1995-98. Chase graduated from Lee University in 2001 and holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee. His opinions are his own and do not reflect any policy or position of the U.S. Army or the Department of Defense. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ChaseMSpears.