I am very happy to be here today, especially since it’s Memorial Day. I don’t look at this as a day to mourn, but rather to memdaycelebrate the lives of those who served this great nation knowing they might have to give  up their lives while doing so. What an awesome testament to bravery, honor and duty. And I am proud to be an American and a MOM.

MOM is Mother Of a Marine. My son, Cody was eleven years old when 9-11 happened. We sat on the couch watching the events unfold in disbelief, but after a while I sent my children outside to play because I felt they had seen enough for one day. As they filed out the door, Cody was the last to go and he stopped, looked up at me and said, “Mom, when I grow up, I’m going to be a Marine and stuff like that won’t happen anymore.” I hugged him and told him that was a great thing to be, but I thought he would change his mind about what he would want to be as an adult at least a hundred times. He never did.

When he was sixteen he found out he could go into the Marine Corps at seventeen as long as he had his diploma. He was home schooled and I told him if he worked hard and could graduate before he was seventeen, I would sign the papers. Cody is my youngest child, the baby boy of twelve children with seven sisters who have coddled him, carried him, and covered for him all his life, so I doubted he would graduate early. Boy, was I wrong! In February 2007 he graduated from high school, more than a month before he turned seventeen on April 7, 2007. He went to the Marine Corps recruiter office and told them he wanted to be a Marine and theycodyblues began the paper work. One problem, he had been home schooled and up until 2007, the Corps did not accept home school graduates. So instead of having to score at least a seventeen on the ASFAB test like graduates of public high schools had to, home schooled graduates had to score at least a thirty. Cody scored fifty, the highest ASFAB score that office had ever seen.

The month of April was spent with Cody going to Kansas City on weekends, but on May 7, 2010 he was on a plane headed for Camp Pendleton for boot camp, which was the longest thirteen weeks of my life! He did get to call during week eight, and then at the end, we were allowed to send him mail and a package. His sister, Rocky decided to be her usual trouble causing self and sent him a letter with the envelope decorated in Army logos and a note that said, “The marines, an Army of one…good for a thousand push ups.” Now,Marines take their job seriously and they also think they are the best branch of all the military, so when Cody’s senior officer saw that letter, Cody wound up face down, pushing out another thousand push ups! When they opened Cody’s package they found hiscodyblues2Reese’s peanut butter cups eaten, with the wrappings in the box and each had a note that said, “Yeah, I thought about sending these to you, but decided I liked them more than I like you. Love, Rocky.” The senior officer asked my son if his sister hated him, and he said, “No, I’m actually her favorite.” The senior officer just shook his head and told Cody to keep up the good work and knock out a few more push ups! Sisters!

I am very proud of my son and his service in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He is home now due to being blown up by an IED in Iraq which caused burns and shrapnel wounds to his face, hands, and arms, and caused him to lose some hearing and sight. After surgeries to repair the damage and laser surgery to repair the scarring on his face, he’s still gorgeous and home. I told him I had prayed for him every day and prayed that no matter what happened, as long as he came home alive, it’s all I cared about. His reply? “Mom, I swear if you don’t stop praying for me, I could’ve stayed in the Corps!” Of course, mom will never stop when it comes to her children.

Not only am I proud of my son, I am also proud of being the descendant of warriors who have fought and died in every war since the beginning of this nation. And I am proud of every mother’s child who continues to serve with honor, bravery and duty. God bless each one of you and the families who stand with their soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

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