When It's 9PM Here, It's 6AM in Fallujah--2013

4 years ago
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I don't know anything that I could do or say about our Veterans then what I said last year about  my stepson's service in the Marines.  Tomorrow is somewhat of a sacred day for my family, we thank God for our son, and pray for all the families who have loved ones in our countries service.  May God bless all our Veterans, past and present.  


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 6 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.   Semper fi.


 In Praise of Nothing Special;

I remember the night we took this picture. It was sometime in late fall of 2004 and I picked up some KFC for supper, and just for the heck of it, I pulled out the camera and snapped some shots of everybody.

 My stepson Mark (he's the cute kid sitting next to my daughter who is sticking her tongue out) asked me, "Why are you taking pictures? Nothing special is going on." To which I replied, "Exactly, that's why I'm taking pictures." I mean, there wasn't any particular reason to be taking pictures except maybe that disposable camera had been sitting on top of the TV for half a year and I was curious to see what I had taken pictures of, so I was gonna finish up the film and take it in to Walgreens.

But this morning when I was straightening up the house I happened upon this picture, it suddenly took on a new meaning for me. There's my incredibly handsome -- then 17-year-old -- stepson, sitting in the front room with his brother and stepsister enjoying original recipe chicken and mashed potatoes. Nothing special. He's probably thinking about how he's going to convince his dad and me to let him go out with his friends for a couple of hours; we're gonna tell him we really don't think it's wise on a school night and he's always gone anyway and why doesn't he just stay put for one night and hang with the family. Then he's going to complain we're too strict and that he stayed home a couple of nights ago and maybe he'll stay home tomorrow and c'mon, it's just for a couple of hours he'll be home by ten.

Four years after this picture was taken, he was in Al Asad, Iraq. It was his second tour of duty then. He told his dad, mom, and me that he was going to what they called Camp Cupcake which was suppose to reassure us that he was going to be safe, which he probably was while he was on the base. The year before he was on his first tour of Iraq. He told us he was going to be guarding a water tank -- and it turned out to be a lie; he was the guy in back of the machine gun on top of a hummer guarding a convoy. This time around he was the one inside the Humvee driving.

Six years after this picture was taken, he was on his very first tour of Afghanistan, the Helmund Province which he told us was actually quite beautiful, and was -- what we later learned from watching Fox News -- incredibly dangerous. Seven years after this photo, he's back on US soil, grateful to be alive, and married. Yeah, my stepson got married this year to an incredible woman, Melissa, and we sure love her. His dad and I are so thankful for his life, grateful that it didn't end on foreign shores as so many of his friends did, and tonight we'll say a prayer thanking God, but also offering up prayers for other families whose son's and daughter's are on other shores, serving their country.

So this picture is just a snapshot of a "nothing special" night in late fall of 2004 -- a another boring night where nothing special was going on. I'm glad I got a picture of it.


Cindy Huber

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