LANHAM, Md. (WBOY) — A West Virginia University ROTC cadet gave his mom a very special Mother’s Day gift this year when his commissioning ceremony was held in the hospital right before her death.
Senior Army ROTC Cadet Christian Arevalo, 23, was preparing for his graduation from West Virginia University and commissioning ceremony last week when he received a call to return to his home in Maryland as quickly as possible because his mother, who was battling advanced-stage cancer, didn’t have much time left.
Although he was scheduled to be commissioned as a second lieutenant the next day, Arevalo hopped in a car and went to the hospital, even though it would cause him to miss his commissioning, an important rite of passage in every Army officer’s career, according to a Facebook post by the WVU Army ROTC. “He never doubted the decision,” said the post, “and notified LTC David Sherck, professor of Military Science, of his intentions to pass on commissioning to be with his mother.”
On Thursday, 18 of Arevalo’s classmates were commissioned in the WVU Mountainlair without him, which didn’t sit right with Sherck, said the post. Early the following day, Sherck drove nearly four hours from Morgantown to Lanham, Maryland to Doctors Community Hospital where Arevalo’s mother, Rosa Gonzalez, was in the ICU.
In an intimate ceremony in his mother’s room, Arevalo was commissioned in front of a small group of his closest family and friends, receiving his gold lieutenant bars and becoming 2nd Lt. Arevalo.
The first thing he did as an officer was bend down and give his mother a kiss on the forehead.
“When I think of Christian, there’s one word that comes to mind, and that’s reliability,” said Sherck in the Facebook post. “It’s a great testament to Christian that when we did peer reviews, his peers universally acknowledged that we always know he’s going to be there and he always gets results. He’s really given it his all over the last four years. We owed it to him to get out here to make this happen for him and his family.”
On Mother’s Day, only days after the ceremony, Arevalo’s mother died. The recent college graduate and his two sisters set up a GoFundMe to cover the cost of his mother’s funeral; in the first 24 hours, the GoFundMe raised more than $8,000.
“The three of us were by her side the entire time until the end. This experience has left us broken and empty. We love our mother so much and would love to give her a funeral as special as she was,” the siblings wrote online.
If you would like to donate, the link is available here.
Arevalo will report for Basic Officer Leadership Course later this year, according to the WVU ROTC, and will then begin a three-year term as an Army Transportation Corps officer.