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Michigan teen honors military with bracelet she's worn since she was 4

Posted at 12:20 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 16:18:05-04

To most, at first glance, Paige Workman's bracelet would seem to be nothing more than an accessory.

But for her, it has a deeper meaning, a meaning that she’s kept close since she was four years old.

"It's like a piece of me now," said Paige.

That bracelet is a reminder of her father’s commitment to his country.

"I went in the military right out of high school. I was 17 when I joined up. I did four years of active duty. When I got out of active duty, I joined the Army Reserves," said Lt. Paul Workman.

Paul Workman is now a lieutenant with the Oakland County Sheriff's Office, but back in 2008, he was deployed to Afghanistan. Paige was just four years old at the time.

"It's kind of like the biggest memory of him being in the military because it was such a young age for your dad to leave for a year," Workman said. "It was a tough year. I had a lot of separation anxiety from my dad, but I was really proud of him. I still am to this day."

Before he left, family friends gifted Paige a green bracelet.

"It says 'Paul' and then 'Blessed are the Peacekeepers,'" said Paige.

And it was in that silicone bracelet that she found comfort in the absence of one of her biggest role models.

"I put it on and I told my family 'I'm not going to take it off until my dad comes back home' and I had this notion that it would kind of keep him safe. It was irrational, but I was young," said Paige.

But after he returned home, her commitment didn’t end.

"When he came back home a year later, I was five and I decided to keep it on until all the other soldiers that overseas came home," said Paige.

Her dad thought it was a phase at first.

"You know, as if most things as adults, we don't commit to something that long, right? So we're like, 'OK.' And then it just kept going on and on," Lt. Workman said.

Since Paige was 4, she has worn that bracelet 24/7, through sporting events, school dances, senior pictures.

"I wanted it to be part of those special moments with me because it's been part of my life for so long," she said.

Her first bracelet lasted nine years before it snapped; she was able to put another one on that same day.

But now Paige is a freshman at Central Michigan University in the ROTC program. And, recently up at school, on her 18th birthday, she got an unwelcome surprise.

"I put my finger under it to move it up and it just snapped off. It flew across the room and ... I immediately started crying. I was like, 'oh no,' and I called my dad," said Paige.

Lt. Workman knew how much the bracelet meant to her, but before he could overnight another one, word started to spread within the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.

"What went through my mind was how proud I am of, not only our Lieutenant Workman but the kind of values he's instilled in his family and his daughter, specifically," said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

So with the encouragement of the Sheriff and Lt. Workman's colleagues, he arranged a surprise visit to Paige’s ROTC class, bracelet in tow.

"I did start crying ... it was a really sweet moment," said Paige.

Now she has a new bracelet, and a spare up at school, just in case, because while the bracelets wear down and break over time, Paige’s commitment remains steadfast.

"I mean, from a very young age ... I've been so in awe of him and what he did for our country ... everybody that serves, it's such a courageous decision and it's always been in the back of my head. My dad's always been one of my biggest role models. I think he's one of the strongest people I know," she said.

Alexandra Bahou at WXYZ first reported this story.