"HAPPY 4th! Love ya!
P.S. Half way through the deployment-- can't wait to see all of your faces".....those were the final words from my son's last letter home in 2006. Navy SEAL Marc Alan Lee was killed weeks later on Aug 2 as he made the choice 3 different times on his final day to expose himself to enemy fire to defend his teammates and the freedoms that we as Americans celebrate this weekend. He gave the gift of life to his buddies, and the gift of his buddies to me.
I write this as I prepare for the wedding in Texas this evening of one of my "adopted" boys, Marc's Lieutenant who celebrates with the love of his life. If it wouldn't have been for Marc and his heroic actions they wouldn't have met. Long story for another time, Congratulations Leif and Jenna! I am so blessed to be part of the Naval Special Warfare Family. The character of the men who serve as SEALs and go above and beyond is absolutely amazing! The courage and sacrifice that they make for the freedoms that we take for granted every day is overwhelming!!
It isn't just the Navy SEALs who sacrifice and give exceptionally so that we as Americans can celebrate the great country that we live in and the Independence that brings us to the Bar-b-ques and fireworks on the 4th. As a Nation we must remember that Freedom isn't free! It is every American who has served from different wars, different nationalities and backgrounds who have fought, bled and many have died for those freedoms. It is our Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines whose character steps up setting aside their wants, desires and needs to defend your right to have yours.
It is every Mother whose son's name is on a memorial wall somewhere across America. I stopped at the Alamo yesterday and held back the tears as I read each name on that wall knowing that another Mother, in a different century, shared the same grief and burden of losing a son as I have.
As I drove back to my hotel I passed Brook Army Medical Center and was drawn to stop and visit the wounded warriors there. I have visited Walter Reed, Bethesda and Balboa Medical Centers on numerous occasions when I was in DC or San Diego, but never had been in the San Antonio area to visit our wounded warriors there.
I prepared myself to enter each room sterilizing my hands and putting on the yellow surgical robes and gloves in the outer room before entering each warriors room. You never know the condition of the hero you will find laying in the bed when you enter the room and you try to prepare yourself mentally to hold back the emotions and shock of the devastation. As I walk in I try not to focus on the injuries but look into their eyes and communicate to them the love and appreciation for their sacrifice. Several of the wounded I visited were missing both legs from the hips down, others were severally burned. I give each one of them a thank you card and Marc's hero card, chatting with them I challenge them, thank them and give them hope. These are America's Mighty Warriors who have sacrificed greatly for our nation.
So as you celebrate this weekend our freedoms, our independence, the privilege we have to be Americans remember......remember American Exceptionalism.......remember our founding Fathers and the vision they had.....remember our troops who have fought for our freedoms....remember the cost of those freedoms......remember Freedom isn't Free......remember as Marc said in his last letter home......"I find that being here makes me realize the great country we have and the obligation we have to keep it that way!"
Marc successfully completed his deployment and has been redeployed to Heaven, however we are still just halfway through our deployments here and we each have something to do to successfully complete our mission and keep our country free. I trust you are doing your part, we have an obligation to our fallen, our wounded warriors and their families.
God bless you..God bless our troops...God bless America! Happy 4th of July!
You can read Marc's last letter at www.americasmightywarriors.org
under the tab "Glory letter."