Daily Life of a Marine Mom

A Piece of My Heart is home from Iraq


Monday, July 17, 2006


Its been an exceptionally sad week for me. I just finished my first condolence book that I had the sad honor of making for another local Marine family and it was as hard to put that book together as it was to attend his funeral. My heart felt every one of the condolences that I printed out and placed in those books (I made three, one for his mother, one for his father and one for his wife). I want to thank all the Marine families that sent in condolences for Seth's family. I know his mother will appreciate having this book when I can get it to her.

Then when I got home from work one day last week and read the messages from my 3/7 Marine parents messageboard I found a sad message from one of my friends on that messageboard. Please say a prayer for this family (my friend Debi and her Marine son and his wife, Robert and Robi). Robert who was married recently and became a father just after coming back from Iraq with the 3/7 lost his baby girl, Alexa, this morning. I don't know why, I just know she passed away. She was only two months old and as far as we knew ... in good health. My heart aches for this family right now and my prayers are with them.

For now ... my own family is doing well. I thank God for that every minute.

Semper Fi and God bless


Here is a bit of history that I was not aware of. Perhaps it is new to you also.

Subject: Iwo Jima and the Rabbi

The most famous image in American history was Joe Rosenthal's photo of the second flag raising over Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima in February of 1945, toward the end of the first week of battle. (The first flag was considered too small to be seen clearly from a distance, so a larger flag was brought in from one of the ships.) The photo is memorialized in Washington, DC, in the Marine Corps Memorial. It is an image we all know. It is an image that tells the world that Americans planted the flag of freedom at great price.

What many of us don't know is that the battle for this piece of volcanic real estate that reeked of sulphur was one of the bloodiest of World War II. Beginning on February 19, 1945, Marine forces, 70,000 strong, fought an unknown number of deeply entrenched Japanese defenders inch-by-inch, yard by yard, for five weeks. In the end, the Marines took over 25,000 casualties, with more than 6,000 killed in action taking the island.

We would fail in our duty, not just to each other as Americans, but to our brothers and sisters around the world, if we failed to remember the eloquent eulogy delivered by an American rabbi at the dedication of the Marine Cemetery at the end of the fighting.

Rabbi Roland B. Gittlesohn was the first Jewish Chaplain for the Marine Corps. More than 1,500 Jewish Marines were in the invading force at Iwo Jima.

Rabbi Gittlesohn was in the thick of the battle, ministering to fallen Marines of every faith under enemy fire. He shared their fear, horror and despair. His unending efforts to comfort the wounded and inspire the fearful earned him three decorations.

After the battle, the Division Chaplain, Warren Cuthriell, a Protestant minister, asked the rabbi to deliver the memorial sermon at a combined religious service dedicating the Marine Cemetery on Iwo Jima. Cuthriell wanted all the fallen Marines honored in a single, non-denominational ceremony. Unfortunately the Marine Corps, being a reflection of America, was still strongly prejudiced. A majority of the Christian chaplains objected to having a rabbi preach over predominantly Christian graves. The Catholic chaplains, in particular, and in keeping with what was then Church doctrine, opposed any form of joint prayer service.

To his credit, Cuthriell refused to alter his plans. But Gittlesohn wanted to spare his friend Cuthriell further embarrassment, and so decided it was best not to deliver his sermon. Instead, three separate services were held. At the Jewish service, to a congregation of 70 or so who attended, Rabbi Gittlesohn delivered the powerful eulogy he originally wrote for the combined service:

"Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores.

Here lie officers and men, Negroes and whites, rich men and poor . . .together. Here are Protestants, Catholics and Jews together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many men of each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy.

Whosoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery.

To this, then, as our solemn duty, sacred duty do we the living now dedicate ourselves: to the right of Protestants, Catholics and Jews, of white men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price.

We here solemnly swear that this shall not be in vain. Out of this and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere."

Among Gittlesohn's listeners were three Protestant chaplains who were so incensed by the prejudice voiced by their colleagues that they boycotted their own service to attend Gittlesohn's. One of them borrowed the manuscript, and unknown to Gittlesohn, distributed thousands of copies to his regiment. Some Marines enclosed the copies in letters home. An avalanche of coverage resulted with major news magazines publishing excerpts and the entire sermon being read into The Congressional Record. The Army broadcast the sermon to American troops throughout the world.

In 1995, the last year of his life, Rabbi Gittlesohn re-read a portion of the eulogy at the fiftieth commemoration ceremony at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington. In his autobiography, Rabbi Gittlesohn reflected, "I have often wondered whether anyone would ever have heard of my Iwo Jima sermon had it not been for the bigoted attempt to ban it."


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I wanted to pass on a story I received. Mostly because I want everyone who supports what I do and say here to know how much I appreciate that support. Thank you and God bless you all.

[author unknown, but whoever you are .. thank you]

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other Students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much." were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Viet Nam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes" Then he said:

"Mark talked about you a lot."

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."

Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album."

"I have mine too," Marilyn said "It's in my diary."

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists."

That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be.

So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

And One Way To Accomplish This Is: Forward this message on. If you do not send it, you will have, once again passed up the wonderful opportunity to do something nice and beautiful.

If you've received this, it is because someone cares for you and it means there is probably at least someone for whom you care.

If you're "too busy" to take those few minutes right now to forward this message on, would this be the VERY first time you didn't do that little thing that would make a difference in your relationships?

The more people that you send this to, the better you'll be at reaching out to those you care about.

Remember, you reap what you sow. What you put into the lives of others comes back into your own.

May Your Day Be Blessed And As Special As You Are


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Okay .. so summer makes me lazy! At least as far as posting here. I sincerely hope that everyone had a marvelous Independence Day.

Eric and his friends went to the fireworks at Victory Field in 29 Palms last night. I was glad to hear that he was out having some fun. I know that he misses the yearly bottle rocket fights that he and his cousins had every year after the fireworks in our small hometown. I miss seeing them shooting the bottle rockets at each other too! Although I know it used to scare us (the adults) half to death lol. They had a rule that if they ducked when a bottle rocket (okay .. they did use the smaller ones!) came toward them they were chicken and the one that ducked was razzed by the other ones for the rest of the year! Needless to say .. I don't think Eric has ever ducked hehe.

I want to share the pic of Eric and his new girlfriend with you all too. Isn't she a cutie! Eric sure thinks a lot of her. So she must be a nice girl!

And now I want to pass on a letter that Ben Stein intended to go to those 'folks at the pointy end of the spear'. It may not show at times .. but more people care about you that you can ever know. And Ben Stein is one of my favorite columnist simply because he shows that he cares. Wish more people did that.

Thank you to those who serve and God bless all of us!

Ben Stein's Letter to the Folks at the Pointy End of the Spear
By Ben Stein


Dear Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, National Guard, Reservists, in Iraq, in the Middle East theater, in Afghanistan, in the area near Afghanistan, in any base anywhere in the world, and your families:

Let me tell you about why you guys own about 90 percent of the cojones in the whole world right now and should be d*mned happy with yourselves and d*mned proud of who you are. It was a dazzlingly hot day here in Rancho Mirage today. I did small errands like going to the bank to pay my mortgage, finding a new bed at a price I can afford, practicing driving with my new 5 wood, paying bills for about two hours.

I spoke for a long time to a woman who is going through a nasty child custody fight. I got e-mails from a woman who was fired today from her job for not paying attention. I read about multi- billion-dollar mergers in Europe, Asia, and the Mideast. I noticed how overweight I am, for the millionth time.

In other words, I did a lot of nothing. Like every other American who is not in the armed forces family, I basically just rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic in my trivial, self- important, meaningless way.

Above all, I talked to a friend of more than forty-three years who told me he thought his life had no meaning because all he did was count his money.

And, friends in the armed forces, this is the story of all of America today. We are doing nothing but treading water while you guys carry on the life or death struggle against worldwide militant Islamic terrorism. Our lives are about nothing: paying bills, going to humdrum jobs, waiting until we can go to sleep and then do it all again. Our most vivid issues are trivia compared with what you do every day, every minute, every second.

Oprah Winfrey talks a lot about "meaning" in life. For her, "meaning" is dieting and then having her photo on the cover of her magazine every single month (surely a new world record for egomania ).This is not "meaning."

Meaning is doing for others. Meaning is risking your life for others. Meaning is putting your bodies and families' peace of mind on the line to defeat some of the most evil, sick killers the world has ever known. Meaning is leaving the comfort of home to fight to make sure that there still will be a home for your family and for your nation and for free men and women everywhere.

Look, soldiers and Marines and sailors and airmen and Coast Guardsmen, there are eight billion people in this world. The whole fate of this world turns on what you people, 1.4 million, more or less, do every day. The fate of mankind depends on what about 2/100 of one percent of the people in this world do every day -- and you are those people. And joining you is every policeman, fireman, and EMT in the country, also holding back the tide of chaos.

Do you know how important you are? Do you know how indispensable you are? Do you know how humbly grateful any of us who has a head on his shoulders is to you?

Do you know that if you never do another thing in your lives, you will always still be heroes? That we could live without Hollywood or Wall Street or the NFL, but we cannot live for a week without you?

We are on our knees to you and we bless and pray for you every moment.

And Oprah Winfrey, if she were a size two, would not have one millionth of your importance, and all of the Wall Street billionaires will never mean what the least of you do, and if Barry Bonds hit ninety home runs it would not mean as much as you going on one patrol or driving one truck to the Baghdad airport.

You are everything to us, as we go through our little days, and you are in the prayers of the nation and of every decent man and woman on the planet.

That's who you are and what you mean. I hope you know that.

Ben Stein

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