While most of his friends were out enjoying their summer vacations, Loudoun County High School student Aaron Barclay was in 1860 for a good part of the summer.
He walked for miles, wearing longsleeved 100 percent wool uniforms, as he traveled from historic park to historic park re-enacting some of the most prominent battles of the Civil War.
While he wasn't able to get to as many events as he would have liked because of his school schedule, he was able to participate in a re-enactment of perhaps the most famous battle in our nation's history.
“I was able to make it to the big thing for me, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg last July,” Barclay said. “That was really a cool re-enactment to be a part of, with about 10,000 re-enactors. Getting to walk out on the field and looking down and seeing a line of men like it would have been in the Civil War. You usually don't get thousands and thousands of men at a reenactment.”
Barclay plans to attend one of the nation’s military colleges - West Point, the Air Force Academy, Naval Academy or the Coast Guard Academy.
“I know it sounds cliché, but my love of country is what has driven me to pursue this goal,” Barclay said. “I think it would be a great honor to serve my country.”
As a teen, Barclay dealt with a potentially life-threatening health crisis that helped him to better understand his role in the world.
An initial diagnosis of lymphoma led to four months of medical testing and, ultimately, a final diagnosis of a benign condition.
“It was a tough thing to hear for someone at the age of 17,” Barclay said. “It really put things into perspective for me and I looked back at my life, wondering what things I maybe should have done differently.
“I definitely learned a lot from it because you can take any moment for granted. You may not get another opportunity down the road, and it made me appreciate what I have.”
With a 4.33 grade point average, Barclay is second in command of more than 200 cadets as the executive officer of the area’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. The NJROTC position is one of Barclay's proudest achievements, a goal he chose in his freshman year.
With the NJROTC, Barclay has toured Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and participated in Fleet Week in New York City aboard the USS Iwo Jima.
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