When 42-year-old, Erika Benning was being sworn in as the newest police officer of Irving Police Department, her emotions were stirred up when she saw her army soldier son arrive at the ceremony.
Army Sgt. Giovanni Pando, 21, had been deployed overseas for the last two years, but when he came forward to pin the badge on her uniform, it was too much for her, "When my son came around the corner and I realized that this was real, my breathing just started to slow down, and everything just felt really tight," Benning said. "I just didn't want to pass out because I wanted to enjoy every moment of it."
The police department in the Dallas, Texas, suburbs wrote about it on their Facebook, "All swearing-in ceremonies are special but every once in a while one tugs at your heart strings a little more than others."
Pando is deployed in Germany, but was able to pull off the surprise on his mom, with the help of Benning's husband and the police department. "It was overwhelming. I felt every emotion you could think of just from being happy for her and also missing her. I was also trying to keep my composure as well," Pando said, adding that a "little bit of tears" came out.
Benning always wanted to be a police officer from childhood, but had to put it on hold as she became pregnant with Pando at a young age.
Pando joined the US Army after graduating from high school, and was stationed at Germany which was the first time he spent time away from his mother for so long, but they communicate every week. "He's the reason why I breathe every single day. He's the reason why I wake up every morning. He's my world," said Benning, an immigrant from Honduras.
After he finishes with the Army, he too plans to be a police officer like his mother. "She's never let something stop her from achieving what she wants. And while raising me, that's always something she's preached to me. If you want something, work for it and you'll achieve your goal," Pando said.
As Pando goes back to Germany, Benning said her swearing-in ceremony will be a moment she will remember forever. "The only other moment that I will never forget that is more meaningful than this was the day I gave birth to him," Benning said. "So, this moment of him pinning my badge, I have to say is up there with that."