Seeing is believing, but sometimes, we don't see the whole picture. Seeing Jeremy Button means believing anything's possible, whole picture or not.
"As members of the Corps, we are the keepers of the spirit and guardians of tradition, and every cadet is that," he said. "That's what we embody."
It's something the Abilene native wanted to embody for a long time. Button graduated high school in 1994, and headed off to Texas A&M. But despite his love of the Corps, the Abilene native's gut told him to head back home.
"I decided after my freshman year that I wanted to go back to work and I wasn't really sure if I wanted to stay in school," Button said. "After that year, I decided to leave the Corps and go back to work."
But Button's love of the Corps never waned. He returned nearly a decade later, his deep desire to serve his country drawing him back into the A&M picture. It's something he felt deep in his heart even before the terror attacks of September 11, but to him, that tragic day in 2001 solidified his need to do something.
"I wanted to do it at the best place I knew possible, and that's Texas A&M," Button said of his training. "It meant a lot to me to come back here and to finish what I started.
"I don't believe you're going to find anywhere that you can serve with young men and women everyday as high a caliber as they are here," he adds. "Nowhere else, period."
An April afternoon on a soggy drill field sees hundreds of uniformed young people lining up, preparing to load up and move out. It's the culmination of the Army ROTC's year, with other area schools joining A&M's cadets in three days of exercises. High-ranking as he is, Button is coordinating with the top brass, making sure the right cadets are in the right place at the right time, getting the right orders from the right people.
For Button, this year has been an exercise in achievement. What you won't see on that field -- at least on the surface -- is the 26 credit hours he took this past semester, the double major he'll earn.
"I hate to sound cliche-ish, but we just do what we can one day at a time," he said. "That's how I have to approach it."
You'll notice he says "we." Besides the extra school, the extra degree, the extra work for the Corps and ROTC, Jeremy Button has a wife, Summer.
And two kids.
Jeremy had held a few jobs over his time away from school. The Buttons were living and working in Lubbock in 2003 when Jeremy felt a familiar urge.
"I said, "Summer, I want to go back to A&M,'" Jeremy said. "She really enjoyed Lubbock and didn't really want to move, but she knew it was something I really wanted and she decided to come back with me. She's the main reason for my success."
And if you needed a phone number in the last year and grabbed an Area-Wide book, you've seen one of the littlest Buttons, Parker, on the cover, decked out in a mini-Corps uniform, a slight smile on his face, a thumb up from his fist. Behind him and a young friend are current cadets in line and standing at attention, a stance Parker will take one day.
"No normal seven-year-old is going to say one of his favorite movies is 'We've Never Been Licked,' but it is," Jeremy said. "His attitude is, 'I can't wait to get here and do this myself.'"
Parker is a little over a decade younger than the youngest members of the Corps. Jeremy is a little less than a decade older. So while the older Button brings a lot of life experience, he also sees things through younger eyes thanks to his buddies.
"I learn more from them than they do from me, really," he said. "They're all great, bright young guys and girls. They're the best."
Soon, Button will suit up in a different uniform, one which will likely take him on deployments and assignments around the world, far from his family. But he's doing this all for them.
"To make everything safer, to see that institutions get to stay -- kind of like Texas A&M -- if that means being away for a while, then that's just what we do," Button said.
And it is that A&M institution that has him ready to take on whatever challenge on whatever front, whatever place, whatever time.
"I feel so prepared, so ultimately prepared, that I know anything laid before me, I can take care of because of the training I've received here," Button said.
You can find out more about Jeremy Button and all the cadets featured in "From the Corps" at the official Corps of Cadets website.