Wednesday, July 3, 2013

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.

2 comments:

  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.

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

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