This is my husband's son, my stepson Mark. (He's the one in the middle of our 2007 Christmas photo.)
He survived a tour of Iraq. Twice. And Afghanistan. But when this photo was taken 5 years ago (right around this time -- near Thanksgiving), our smiles were fake.
We knew when Mark joined the Marines that he would more then likely be serving in a foreign country. And he had just told us, shortly before this photo, that he knew he would be going to Iraq. This sounds so ominous, but it's true: as his family, it was like having a sword hanging over your head. You know it's going to drop... but when?
Less then 3 months later, Mark went to Fallujah, Iraq, which is just northeast of Bagdad and nine hours ahead of Milwaukee. When we went to bed at night, we would say a prayer for Mark because we knew he would be waking up... and then, when we woke up, we said another prayer for Mark because we knew he was out there, somewhere, serving his country. It was all we could do for him then.
After the first tour, my stepson told his dad that once they got to Kuwait, they were flown in a helicopter where it was just "so high" but not too high, as the terrorists had rockets they could use to shoot them down, but not "too low" either as the terrorists had shoulder rockets that could also, shoot them down.
My husband and I spent a lot of time on our knees in those days begging God for our son's protection... and today we pray for other parents whose children are serving, just as our son once did... because this year, 5 years after this photo was taken, we know our son will be home for Thanksgiving.
I just want to thank our veterans for their sacrifice, although a simple thanks does not seem enough.
May God bless our children in foreign countries. I just want you to know, my family will be praying for yours.
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