What Do I Want My Legacy to Be?
Posted February 23, 2015
Lt. Col. Wenceslao Angulo, Communications Director, U.S. Army Soldier for Life
“What do I want my legacy to be,” Micah Petersen asks himself.
A sophomore at the University of Delaware, Petersen is shaping his future as both a bachelor’s and master’s degree candidate, pursuing a double major in Chinese and International Relations and starting graduate classes in Human Geography.
“Do I want it to be just about me, or do I want to be a part of something bigger,” he asks himself.
Petersen answered that question long before he started college, sealing it by joining Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
Deeply influenced by his mother’s stories of her native Zimbabwe, of the military draft that affected her friends and the respect she had for them, Petersen knew he wanted to pursue a career in the Army. “The brotherhood and camaraderie impacted me,” he said.
Petersen will commission as a Second Lieutenant after graduation, and will take all of the education and training he learned in college and in ROTC with him throughout his career. Once commissioned, he feels he can have the most impact in the Infantry. Already exemplifying a Soldier for Life mentality, Petersen said, “I want to be responsible for 40 or so men and women who rely on me for their training, health, family needs. That’s something I really want to do—serve those individuals.”
Balancing academic demands and a rigorous ROTC schedule is difficult. A varsity athlete in high school, Petersen credits “being the little guy on the basketball court” with shaping who he is today. “The work ethic, the tenacity to win on the court. That impacted me a lot,” Petersen said.
A strong sense of responsibility is another factor. “With every class, every workout, I’m working towards a goal,” said Petersen, whose dream is to eventually join Special Forces. “I have a responsibility to learn everything I can and work out as hard as I can to build my leadership skills. It’s not a win or a loss that’s on the line, it’s a life,” he added.
As a student and future soldier, Petersen has a unique viewpoint. After fielding questions like “can you be a normal student and in ROTC,” he strongly feels that there is a need for more education as to why service members join the military.
He looks at his involvement in ROTC and a winter internship at Got Your 6 as ways to help him bridge that gap.
“The biggest thing I learned is that switching the conversation starts with organizations and people making the effort to understand why veterans served,” said Petersen of his internship experience. “Veterans are average people.. They’re like everyone else: they need someone to empower them and believe in them.”
His advice on how communities can start learning more: “say thank you to a veteran, but go further. Ask: what did you do while you were deployed? What did you learn? What’s next?”
Soldier for Life is an Army program designed to connect soldiers and veterans like Petersen with education, employment and health resources and opportunities. Soldier for Life supports soldiers, veterans and their families and enables them to continue to serve strong.