The Ordinary Project | CHANDLER HENDERSON |

The Ordinary Project understands that regular people are the ones truly leaving their mark on this crazy world–marks of courage and hope, selflessness and sacrifice, love and faith.

And, while we will never be able to acknowledge every single unsung hero, my mission with The Ordinary Project is to do exactly as the name suggests: recognize and honor those ordinary people who are coloring the world a more beautiful place, simply because they believe it should be done, typically without any promise of reward or even acknowledgement.


I have a small list of ordinaries whose stories I hope to share, but I would be honored if you chose to send me the names and contact information of ordinary people in your own life that deserve to be known! You may do so by emailing theordinaryproject2017@gmail.com.

So, today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you: Chandler Henderson, my favorite little soldier 🙂


Chandler and I have been friends for a few years now, and before she left for Basic Training, we saw each other almost weekly. But I can’t tell you how proud I am of her for making this decision and seeing it through.

Chandler can be described as a lot of things: passionate, determined, caring, free-spirited, strong-willed. But I like to think of her as a wild-flower–you can stomp her down, but she will only come back stronger and more beautiful than before.

I’ll let her tell the rest of her story:

I’m a 92Y supply specialist for the Nebraska Army National Guard. I have been in for a little over a year now, and my contract goes for six years.

There are many reasons why I enlisted. I could have when I was 18 years old, because my whole family has been in and I grew up around it. But I just knew the only thing that was going to decide if I should join or not would be me. So a little after I turned 21, I decided I needed to start making a life for myself, and I knew the military could guide me down the right path. I did it not only for myself but for the future I could have if I start a family later down the road.

One of the most rewarding things I go out of joining the military is really starting to realize my self-worth. I accomplished things in basic training I never knew my body and mind could handle. I came back tremendously stronger as a person, and I know now I can truly accomplish more in life than I could ever even imagine was possible.

Another rewarding part of being a part of the National Guard is the family you build with the people you work around. You become brothers and sisters ready to fight beside each other.

Chandler and her battle buddy, Osuna

The most challenging thing to me, is being away from family and staying in the right mind set. Also, at any time I could get that phone call that I need to get ready to ship out with my unit, and have to leave the life back home. What makes it easier is knowing it’s my duty to help serve and I have a family ready to ship out with me.

I don’t believe there was ever a time where I didn’t feel accomplished in the military. From simple things like qualifying with my M16 rifle at the range, to finishing a 10k ruck march, getting promoted at basic, and even the day that graduation came for basic training.

Seeing my father who is a CW5 in the National Guard, and showing him what all I have accomplished and made it through was absolutely the most rewarding. Knowing I made my father happy and proud that day made it worth it.

Chandler and her father

In the military, there is this saying: “embrace the suck,” which pretty much means that some of the things you’re going to have to do are very painful and going to suck, but make the most of it. I feel that is my favorite quality about myself. No matter what the situation is or how bad it sucks, I know I will always make the best of it, learn from it, and become a stronger person from it.

One of the qualities I wish I didn’t have was self-doubt. I worry about not carrying my weight and also about not accomplishing the task to standard. But, sure enough, when the task is thrown at me, I do achieve it with no problem.

A hero to me is someone who is going to go above and beyond to make sure people are safe, will sacrifice everything, yet never expect anything in return. One who will always place the mission first, never expect defeat, never quit, and never leave a fallen comrade.

My father has always been my hero to me. The sacrifice he made to be gone more than half my life not only to protect our country, but also to make sure we had food on the table and a roof over our heads. After everything he has seen and been through, he still came back and was the loving and caring father he had always been. With being gone he still found a way to raise me into who I am today. Showing me that I deserve respect, and that just because I am a female it doesn’t mean I can’t do anything I set my mind to, and that things suck at times but that’s life, and you will always naturally find a way to survive the situation.

I don’t believe I would consider myself to be a hero. I just mainly focus on doing what is morally right, living up to the army values, and if there is anyone in need for help I would do anything I possibly could. About three years ago was a life changing part in my life that made me into a stronger person today. I put myself around the wrong group of friends, dropped out of college, and lost my way. There was a time after that where I said enough is enough and I shall never waste a day in my life again. Even going through all of that I would never turn back time. It molded me made me who I am today and wouldn’t change it. All the ups and downs, being lied to, and stolen from. Every day, every let down, was a learning experience for me and I would never change that. All it has done is made me wiser, stronger, and an understanding person.

My family has impacted me the most. They taught me not to judge, to self-express, to learn from what seem odd or different, to explore, and to try new things. Those years when I wasn’t going down the right path, and not setting my priorities straight, they never said anything to me except they loved me and would always be here for me no matter what. And they stuck to their word, when I decided to start a new life for me they couldn’t be happier, and believed in me–that I was strong enough to not only correct my path but start an entire new path just for me and what was best for me.

 

From reading this story, the message or impact I would like to leave is that you’re always in control of your own life. Your decisions are what you make of it, and you’re stronger than you can imagine. It doesn’t matter how bad of a spot you are in, there is always time to change it. You just have to decide when you are ready to make the first step, and, on average, you never feel you’re ready. But just do it and naturally adapt to your new path. The fight for what you want will always be hard, but never quit. You will always succeed if you continue to set your mind to it, and in the end, when you make it to where you want to be, it all pays off. The self confidence boost, the drive to accomplish more will set in.”

I’m so thankful I get to call this young lady a friend, so thankful for her willingness to serve our country, and I can’t wait to see where God continues to take her in life.

May we all be ordinary heroes, right where we are.

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