As I said in my earlier post, this young man is going to change the world.
John Weber has been an American citizen since July 2008. He was blessed with this gift when two fantastic people fell in love with a picture of him. His father shared a story of how he fell in love with a picture and his wife fell in love with a video only to find out that it was the same boy.
The memorial session of the ceremony was beautiful and very touching. John dedicated the ceremony to 4 men who have touched his life directly and indirectly. His mentor in scouting, Ed Zahn, who passed away before he accomplished the level of Eagle. Clifford Sabtake, a WWII Veteran, that John met and spent a lot of time practicing his English with and learning about this great country. Sgt Ryan Jopek, a young man who gave his life for this country and has left a great legacy behind. Spec Grant Dampier, a father who gave his life for this country and has left a great legacy behind as well as three beautiful girls that John plans on being big brother to and making sure that they aren't forgotten.
John's 3-year-old nephew, Pheonix, sang My Country Tis Of Thee. It was fantastic. They had to urge him to get started but then he took it from there and sang boldly and proudly to the over 100 people present. I loved watching the few children present during the ceremony. It caused my husband and I to wonder how our girls would have behaved during the ceremony. It wasn't all flash and flare. It was honest and true and humble and proud. I think that's how I would describe John from watching him and listening to him speak. And boy, can that boy speak. He still has a thick accent, but his words were so powerful that the strongest in the room were moved to tears of pride.
John shared with us so much in his speech. I would love to share just a few moments that struck my heart. He told us how in Russia, he only dared to dream in black and white if he dared to dream at all. He said that being in America has allowed him to dream in color. John reminded us that our freedom was a gift given to us my our veterans and our soldiers. He spoke of how we need to remember that it is a gift and not to be forgotten. He shared with us how now he feels that he is completely surrounded in freedom. That it lifts him up and allows him to fly towards the sun. That is also allows him the freedom to dive and rise again just like an eagle.
John shared his memories of his first week after being adopted and living in America. He told us that first night when his mom tucked him into bed that she said, "Welcome to the joy and responsibility of being an American citizen." (praying I got that quote right, I was so moved by it that I couldn't write fast enough after I told myself to write that down) John shared that he has made a promise to his parents not to waste one moment of his life (and he joked that there is no way they would let him do that). He shared that they would keep popping into his room to check on him that first week and that eventually he just had to pretend to be sleeping so that they would go to bed. And that he loved every moment of it. John shared how much he cherishes the love that is poured on him by his parents. You can see it in everything they do, even the tiniest glance. John told us that this is an example of what adoption is meant to become. He urged us all to fight evil wherever we see it, no matter the size of it.
John was called "an outstanding voice of Democracy". It was also shared that when he salutes (be it the flag or a soldier), that he does it with everything in him and with all the respect in the world. It was shared that he lives by the 12 words of the Boy Scouts; the whole ceremony was based on them. Brave, courteous, clean, trustworthy, loyal, thrifty, reverent, obedient, friendly, helpful.
This ceremony was an awesome experience. It was inspiring. Seeing all those veterans present, all the different ages of them, and the honor that they showed toward this young man. He is doing things at the age of 15 that half of these men probably never thought of doing at that age. From talking to some of the other guests, I found out that he is starting a program for the young kids in the area. He is going to be visiting the local school and talking to them about patriotism and the veterans and what they can do to make a difference in this world.
I am honored every time I get to be near John and his family. Their life and vitality explode through everything they do and yet, they do it all humbly and for the honor of God. I'm sure that I didn't even come close to doing the ceremony justice with this post. But I knew that I needed to share these moments of inspiration with everyone and pray that just a smidgen of what I received is passed on to you. Watch for this young man to do fantastic things in this world.