Takia A. Rust entered the military at 18 just out Keefe Technical Regional High School.
With a family, that has a history of serving our country, it was not unusual choice.
Both her parents served in the U.S. Navy. Her grandfather was a Green Beret, who almost lost his life in the Vietnam War, Rust told a crowd of more than 100 at Framingham's Memorial Day ceremony Monday afternoon.
Rust, 27, as the keynote speaker became the first female and the first African-American in Framingham to have that honor.
Framingham Veterans Agent Peter Harvell described Rust as the changing face of the military.
"Military today can not function without women," said Harvell. "And they are playing an even greater role everyday in our national defense."
A single mom, she served two tours of duty over the last decade. Her son Jayden, 7, is a first grade student at McCarthy Elementary.
She said she may have enlisted to earn an education, but ironically she never took a class.
She said she served for her country.
With dozens of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in front of her as well as her son, Rust said she also served because she "needed to know that their (all the little ones in the audience) future would be a guarantee."
Rust had two tours of duty in the Middle East, each one designated as an “imminent danger zone."
Her first tour was in Iraq in 2006. Her second in Kuwait in 2010. She was a motor transport operator, with the 1060th transportation company, out of Framingham.
"It was the best 10 years of my life," she told the audience.
Rust completed her National Guard obligation last year and wants to take the test to become either a Framingham Police Officer or a Massachusetts State Trooper.
"Remember the fact that there are a lot of people who lost their lives" Rust told the audience. "Who don't get to come home and who don't get to stand here with us."
Rust said she wouldn't be here, if it wasn't for her son.
"I would be over there fighting still," she told the crowd.
She reminded the audience when they are thanking a veteran to thank their families as well, for she wouldn't have been able to do what she did without her family. Her parents took care of Jayden, while she was out of the country and serving the United States.
At the end of Monday's ceremony, Rust and Harvell placed a wreath in the rotunda of the Memorial Building, where the names of veterans who died are inscribed.