Although it has been over 7 years ago, it feels like yesterday that we stood on the hot tarmac at 29 Palms before the 2-7 Marines left for Afghanistan. The soldiers filed into their lines for final roll call, surrounded by those of us who had traveled to send them off. Young wives, in the last term of pregnancy, would deliver alone. Grandfathers, whose caps were embroidered with the unit they had served in, stood around as their grandsons, the next generation of soldiers, headed into battle. Mothers wept. Fathers looked on.
We all knew in our heart there was a chance they were not all coming home. We were right. Twenty of those who stood before us on that hot afternoon didn’t come home. It was a sobering time and one that stretched my faith beyond what I thought was possible.
A few years ago, I went with Scott to help his Civil Air Patrol unit put wreaths on the graves of those at the Fort Rosecrans military cemetery. Wreaths were given to the cadets with the marker number where it was to be placed. When we approached one of the markers, there were already people at the soldier’s gravesite. It was his family. His mother. It had only been a few months since the young Marine had been laid to rest.
The young cadets didn’t know what to say as they handed her the wreath. I did. She was living out my worst fear. Seeing her child carried under a draped flag.
I told her I was a mother of a Marine, and thanked her for her son’s service as well as hers.
Standing next to the headstone of her son, just a few years younger than mine, we held each other- bonded by tears that flowed freely.
For me, Memorial Day happens once a year. For that mom, it is a reality everyday. For all those who have served and are still serving, Thank You.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. Ronald Reagan