The Friday entries of "The Powder Room" are currently from a journal which I started when we found out our son was going to be deployed with the United States Marine Corps to Iraq. The journal was not written with the intention that it would ever be read by anyone else, much less published in any way. There are feelings in the journal that are deep and true and I wasn't sure at first I wanted to share them. But there are many sons and daughters still serving in our armed forces and I think it might be good to share "a mother's heart" with you what those other mothers may be facing. The entries are shared as a tribute to my son and his service to our country, and to all those sons and daughters who continue to willingly place themselves in harm's way for the protection and preservation of liberty.
Today I have included entries from two days because they are linked by a critical event. (Comments in italics are current thoughts added.)
When deciding which entry should post on Patriot's Day, there could be no other choice than this:
September 24 - Day 110
Death has come to our team. Foster Harrington was shot by an Iraqi sniper on September 20th. We were told our guys were performing an "unusual mission" --as if any mission in war zone is routine -- when he was shot. The knowledge of his death has struck me deeply. I honestly expected all six of them to come home unscathed. And yet, here is one -- the leader, no less -- coming home under a draped flag. How much more I could have prayed! How many times have I allowed my thoughts to be diverted while guns are aimed at my son and his green-clad brothers! Life is not about fun and games and entertainment -- it is about a spiritual war -- and Foster one of the casualties. How much more it has caused me to pray for Noah and the rest of the men on his team. Already they have a new captain of their team and I hear Noah thinks highly of him. I have added him to my prayers.
In the days before Noah left for Iraq I had a strange occurrence with my Marine teddy bear statue. Several times he fell over. The sight of that stiff little Marine lying on it's side tempted me to fear each time -- as if it were an omen that my real Marine would also fall. I never told anyone about it, but kept it to myself because it just seemed way to silly to share. Whenever it would come to my mind, I wold remember the verse, "it will not come nigh unto thee" and would claim that prayer for Noah.
Then when the hurricane (Ivan) blew through, I just knew my yellow bow with Noah's name on it would have been blown away, but it was the first thing I noticed when we came home. A little frayed perhaps, but still there. The one on Sandy's tree was there, too. I felt as if the Lord was gently patting me on the shoulder saying "I told you he will be alright, I'll take care of him."
Even when death has struck so close, I will continue to believe that our Lord will be a very present help in time of trouble --the God of Jacob will be Noah's refuge.
October 9, 2004 Day 125
Today was Foster's Memorial service at the Recon unit. The Marines not deployed from the unit were all there, of course, but also there were many, many more. Some were Foster's family and friends. Some were people who knew him, some never met him. Some were there, like us, to honor the Marines we know and love who are still there serving. I wasn't there primarily for Foster. . .I was there for Noah who couldn't be there himself.
My response to the service surprised me. What I expected to bring tears didn't and what I didn't expect to, did. What shook my heart the most occurred at the beginning of the service, when the National Anthem was played. It struck me that this was the first time I had heart it played in honor of a patriot that I had known of personally. Suddenly it had so much more meaning, and I knew I would never again hear it without it touching my heart. (I have never heard it since that I have not thought of Foster's sacrifice, or the sacrifice of my son, and it has each time brought tears to my eyes, as it should.) I vowed that from now on it would cause me to thank the Lord for all the bravest of us who have given up their freedoms to protect ours.
As the echos of the "home of the brave" were sounding pale in the gymnasium, the proud triumphant sounds of the Marine Corps hymn began to play. Again the tears started to flow. This was not just any patriot, not just any freedom fighter. This was a United States Marine, this was a brother to my son and in some strange way that I can't quite understand, that makes him my son, too. And so I felt mournful for the man who led my son, who was considered a friend, who will be missed in ways I can never comprehend. (To this day, my son wears a bracelet engraved with Foster's name as a memorial to his leader and friend.)
At the end of the service seven rifles volleyed three shots each and a bugle rang out clear and true the mournful notes of taps. Each Marine in turn, many with tears streaking their faces, walked by to touch the helmet and say goodbye. I vowed to pray harder, more fervently that the Lord will protect my son and that his safety is totally of Him.
On this Patriot's Day, let us all remember the brave men and women who in the past have sacrificed so much for so many, and those who continue to do so today. They deserve our utmost respect and appreciation.