Thursday, May 12

LANCE CPL. LAWRENCE PHILIPPON

My wife had a tough Mother's Day. We live in southeast Texas, as a result of a job promotion and relocation four years ago, and for the first time in our adult lives we're entirely away from family. So my wife was understandably low on Sunday, as she misses our adult sons, our two grandsons, and her mother very much. And magnifying the somberness of her mood was the somberness of the day -- a steady rain pounded our area from morning to night, and recurring periods of violent lightening kept us confined indoors. It just wasn't much of a day for her and I felt badly that she was hurting so.

But isn't it always the case that whatever problems, setbacks, and disappointments beset us, there's always someone else having a much more difficult time of it and while it's only human nature to feel the walls caving in on us from time to time, we have to remind ourselves of our blessings and respect the greater hardships that others invariably endure.

Leesa Philippon of West Hartford had a cataclysmic Mother's Day -- one that will remain etched in her memory and lodged in her heart for her remaining years. U.S. Marines appeared at her front door at 9:00pm that night to bring the painful news of her son's death. Lance Cpl. Lawrence Philippon had been killed in combat in a four-hour firefight in western Iraq and now on Mother's Day, 2005, Leesa Philippon joined over 1,600 other mothers who have lost sons or daughters engaged in the Middle East campaign to defeat terrorism.

Mrs. Philippon's son was dead and two women were abruptly devastated, overwrought with grief, and their lives changed forever: she and Lawrence's fiancee, Olivia Lawrence. This fine Marine carried the United States flag during President Ronald Reagan's funeral; and because he bravely and patriotically sought service in Iraq, another Marine will carry our nation's stars and stripes for him.

He is gone. We owe it to his memory, and to the loved ones he and so many others before him (and to follow) have left behind, to say a prayer of earnest thankfulness that such heroes are in our midst -- Americans willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that this nation and its freedoms will, as Lincoln said, "long endure."