Memorial Day has an entirely new meaning for families of the deployed. It is a reminder of our sacrifice. The days leading up to it are much like the days leading up to another deployment in the continuous deployment cycle that is our family’s reality. You know that the news will be filled of images of Arlington and every movie channel will have a 2 hour series on the horrors of war. Friends will talk about their upcoming plans for BBQ. No one will mention the reason for the extra day off. One percent of us will dread the parts of the weekend that remind us that our child isn’t home safe eating BBQ with us, if we even BBQ at all. I wondered all week if Julien’s mother would visit Arlington this weekend. I wondered all week if I should find a way to contact her, to reach out in some way. To tell her that I think of her often and that I pray for her healing.
Every sound bite on the news becomes deeply personal. Yesterday evening I drove two hours east to watch my youngest granddaughter dance her first recital. Not feeling physically well, with my son heavy in my heart, I thought the excitement of her first dance would allow me some relief from the stress that is Memorial Day, July 4th, Pearl Harbor Day, Veteran’s Day and every other remembrance day that he spends there.
Replacements are there, allowing him to get out of the air for a while so that his body can heal before he heads back home. He’s been sick for days. He’ll come home only to be sent back over in another couple of months to start the work all over again. He loves his work. He never complains.
When we drove to the town square, parking was difficult due to a classic car show, something that happens each summer in many small rural towns. As we were walking up to the civic center, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that in the past, would have gotten my attention, but not stopped me dead in my tracks the way it does now knowing that my child will be considered a veteran.
The gentleman speaking was announcing the local color guard was there to assist them in the national anthem. I have always stopped when the anthem is played, in honor of my uncles, Jack, Carl Junior (noonee as he was known to me) and Kenny and cousin Carl J. II. I have always felt pride. But now the anthem throws me into a deep sorrow that only another military mother could understand.
As I stood there on the town square with my husband, we both placed our hands on our hearts and cried. We paused when it was over and acknowledged each other’s pain. No words needed. Tomorrow can’t come and go soon enough.
Darkhorse 3rd Battalion
This was sent to me by a dear friend with 3 sons in active duty. I promised to pass it along. Please say a prayer for “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan & they have lost 9 marines in 4 days. There is nothing in the media about these brave Marines. Why aren’t we angry?! Get loud with me, please.
*Justin Allen, 23, Brett Linley, 29, Matthew Weikert,29, Justus Bartett,27, Dave Santos, 21, Chase Stanley, 21 Jesse Reed, 26, Matthew Johnson, 21, Zachary Fisher, 24, Brandon King, 23, Christopher Goeke, 23, Sheldon Tate,27.*
All are Marines that gave their lives for us this week. Please Honor them by sharing this information with everyone you see this week. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Even if it makes you uncomfortable.
I wrote a really cute post tonight and it evaporated with the slip of my thumb. It involved a Friday night dream of my son jumping out of a sardine can plane in his dress blues, because I refuse to have the scary dreams anymore. rats. guess it wasn’t that good after all. My daughter, the new matriarch of our family assures me that even though its been since Thursday, she knows he is safe. She assures me that it is a “sibling thing mom”,” trust me, he’s okay. mom”. She’s such a great kid.
Too sad to post the names this week. I will give you their names next time. They deserve to be read out loud by someone other than me.
As I sit in my classes each day, classes that are expertly executed by the Center for Deployment Psychology, I complain to myself that my back hurts and the room is too cold. What a sissy I’ve become in a week.
I’m ashamed to complain about discomfort so minimal, when my son and others like him are physically uncomfortable most of the time. After 40 hours of intense instruction, I have twenty more hours of face to face instruction left between now and the end of the year. These classes teach me how to assess the returning troops and then deliver evidence based treatment modalities that are proving to help and even heal those who are coming home unit by unit over the course of this year and next. So many.
May Day was the perfect day to run across the story of Bea Cohen, who has spent her life serving her country and isn’t ready to stop just yet.
During World War II, Bea Cohen enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to England as a private first class. Her duties there included working in the communications department with top-secret documents. Like so many other immigrants of that era, Bea stated that she joined the Army in order to give back to her newly adopted country. Imagine that. Giving Back. Just for the privilege of being a U.S. citizen. She became legally blind in 1990 and lost her husband, Marine gunnery sergeant Ray Cohen, in 2003. In spite of this, she’s never shown signs of slowing down. She still finds ways to give back to our service men and women.
I slept a lot today. I attended yoga to release the pain that stuck around in my heart after the training. With 24 hours between me and the training’s end, I feel strong and ready to give back. Grateful to have started the journey that will provide me the tools to do the work. Besides sending the occasional check to the USO, I haven’t done much to give back to the military men and women who watch my back so that I can feel relatively safe each night and day.
Thank you Bea Cohen. You inspire me to give more, do more.