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He's any Marine, yours or mine, back to WWII for sure, probably every war since there have been Marines.  It's winter, and he's got on every layer he carries with him.  He has a dark knit cap pulled down low, covering his ears.  If you could see his hands, they'd be covered in ragged gloves, the tips cut out so he can handle his weapon.  He has the kind of dirt on his face you know isn't just today's, but is layers of grime, months' old, that he wipes off when he shaves -- every day, by God, because he's a Marine -- but is never quite washed away in the absence of soap and hot water.

He's hunched with the cold, his eyes are tired, and the circles beneath them run right into his too-prominent cheek bones.  But he's got that one-sided smile that tells you he's still in there somewhere, there's the spark that makes him a Marine, a man, and my son.

When people ask me about my son, I don't want to show them that shiny graduation picture from boot camp, with the too-big hat balancing on the top of his ears, that 1000-mile stare the photographer scares them into.  I want to show them this one.  This is who and what a Marine is. 

He's not just my child.  He's yours, too.  And your Marine is mine, too.  That's why we parents come here, and we brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers.  We come here to talk about our children, we worry together over them, we pray for them, we laugh about their antics, and we grieve together when we must.

Next time someone asks me, "How could you let him go?" I won't answer the way I have in the past.  I always used to say proudly, "It can't always be someone else's child."  I've realized it never is -- it is always my child -- and theirs -- and yours -- who goes to war, and sends home a photo that looks a lot like the one I've posted.  These are America's children.

We should remember that.

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Comment by margrob1 on September 30, 2015 at 8:31pm
Thank you for this, my son is a Marine as well.
Comment by prdmomma on December 16, 2012 at 9:23am

Thank you.It's the way I feel about the whole Company,not just my recruit.

Comment by yomamatex on March 28, 2012 at 5:52pm

Nice piece, Julie.

Comment by karinms on February 1, 2012 at 4:08pm
I completely understand! I saw the same news story. Such senseless loss! I was so mad when we lost those 6 Marines on the 19th. You just didn't see hardly anything about it! I posted the link on my FB page and not a single comment. I posted something about the presidential candidates, I had 4 comments in minutes. No one on the "outside" seems to get it. It really at times, feels like America has forgotten!
Comment by 1~17smom (Julie) on February 1, 2012 at 1:16pm

Thanks, Karinms et al:  Today this post seems particularly meaningful to me. 

A mom had a post elsewhere on MFN about how sick to her stomach it made her when a co-worker thoughtlessly said we should just send the troops into Iraq and blow them all up if they blocked our access to oil.   All the mom could think of was that her Marine might be one of those "troops" the co-worker talked about so lightly.

Then this morning I saw a news article about a US Marine shot by an ANA soldier standing post with him somewhere in Helmand.  My son is deployed there, as are many of our Marines.  My husband just said, "Don't borrow trouble, Julie," and I know that.  But I know that Marine is somebody's child and I am feeling very blue.  It's a gray and misty day here in Northern California, and I'd just like to go back to bed and sleep for a few months until my son is back on US soil, I guess.

As people argue about deficit spending, and debt ceilings and balanced budgets, it's hard for me to get excited about various economic philosophies.  I think too much about the real cost of war, which is, and always will be, paid by America's children.


3/3 Weapons Co


Comment by karinms on February 1, 2012 at 12:35pm

Hi family! Had computer probs so havent been on in a while. Julie, your words are always so amazing! Just like chesters mom, I lean on you for support, and just wanted to say thank you for the thoughtfulness of your posts. This is a beautiful letter, and now, for some reason, my eyes seem to be watering.  

Comment by Shari from MO on January 26, 2012 at 8:12pm
Ok. Have the "eye sweats" going now! This is beautifully written and paints the picture so well. Thank you so much Julie for your words...and the beautiful Marine mom heart behind those words.
Comment by leela on January 26, 2012 at 6:41pm

Thanks Julie. Lovely.

Comment by eileeng on January 24, 2012 at 12:04pm

Wonderful!  Thank you Julie.

Comment by chester's mom on January 23, 2012 at 11:28pm

Beautifully said, Julie.  You should put your writings into a book, sell it in the EGA store to support our children and also to put all your wonderful words in one place for the mothers and fathers (siblings, grandparents, etc).  You have no idea how much I lean on you. 

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