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A Marine Mom’s Fourth of July

I wrote the following on April 10, 2003.  Back then I used to write a weekly column for a local newspaper. I cut it down a little so I could share it with you for the Fourth of July 2013. The price of freedom is never free.   

After three months of sporadic emails, almost non-existent phone calls, and sparse letters, I came home the other day to find a package in my mailbox from my Marine son fighting in Iraq. 

I was stunned and delighted to find a padded brown envelope addressed to me.  Inside wrapped in a Ziploc freezer bag, I found a foreign-made throwaway camera, dusty with sand.  The bag was opaque and brittle from use.  Everything I send to him I wrap in these bags.  His life is so Spartan that I am glad he finds uses for them.

I sped with the camera to have the photos developed and waited there until the tech handed them to me.  I opened them immediately.

Pictures of helicopters, sand, and Hummers - then I flipped to a picture of my son holding an M-60, and it hit me so hard, I started to cry.

A man looks up at me from these pictures.  He rarely smiles.  He points to things so I can see what he sees. He looks older.  He looks fit.  He has gained weight and muscle.  In every picture there is an M-60 or an M-16, and I realize it is what keeps my young warrior alive. This is what will bring him home.

More pictures – of him, of his friends, some whom I know from backyard picnics and Saturday night’s spent at my house while they watched movies.  Other young men smile at me though we have never been introduced.  A wife, a mother would appreciate a copy of these photos, so I scanned them and sent them to the Marine Key Volunteer so she could identify them and send them to the other families in my son’s unit.

I carry those photos with me from room to room in my house.  I store them in my purse so they can go with me wherever I go. They are reminders that he is alive and well.

I rush home every day and look in the mailbox anticipating another package, but all I find are bills and junk mail.  But what I really want is to rush home and find a six-foot Marine waiting for me in the living room, a smile on his sweet face.

PS:  My son has since served two more times, 2005 in Iraq and 2010 in Afghanistan.


  1. I remember when you got those pictures. What an emotional time. Thank you to your son for defending our freedom. Thank you for the sacrifices you make while he was gone.

  2. Thank you, sweet Suz. It is with friends like you that I find my courage.


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