Honor in My Heart


“This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation, as a token of our appreciation for the honorable and faithful service rendered by your loved one.”

My loved one. My dear son Eric. Who, five months after being honorably discharged from the U. S. Marine Corps, lay motionless in a flag draped casket. The presentation of that flag, ceremoniously folded, was the most heart-wrenching moment of his funeral. Uncontrollable sobs wracked my body as the Officer-in-Charge presented Eric’s next of kin—me, his mother—with the folded flag that had covered his casket.

All my life, and to this day, three years after Eric’s painful suicide, I have walked up to and thanked members of our Armed Forces for serving our country. That is, by chance, how this mother, at 46 years of age, found herself dressed in full ACUs (Army Combat Uniform) on this Memorial Day Weekend.


In January, as I walked the aisles of a horse-filled exhibition hall at our local state fairground, two uniformed men flanked a booth. With tears in my eyes, I extended a hand and thanked them, “But what branch of the military are you with—I don’t recognize the uniform?” The commander’s soft eyes smiled from under his draped black beret, “We’re with the Cavalry, Ma’am—Maryland Defense Force, Troop A, Cavalry.”

The Cavalry. I didn’t even know it still existed—but my curiousity was piqued and I was hooked. For the past three months I have been working toward completing my basic training: passing muster in front of dignitaries and generals, riding the trails of history in Gettysburg, learning Customs and Courtesies, obtaining my Red Cross certification and on Saturday, completing the Saber Qualification Course.

Irony or Purpose?

In preparation, as I was putting the emblems and insignias on my ACUs, I hesitated before placing “LOSEY” on my patrol cap. Tears streamed down my face as I ran out to Eric’s truck to retrieve his—the one he hung from his rear view mirror the day I picked him up from Camp Lejeune, NC three years earlier. I clutched both caps to my aching heart. Irony? No, purpose.

As I placed my cap on my head, I rehung Eric’s on the rear-view mirror of his F-150, hopped up onto the seat and hauled my horse, Rocky, down the highway to see if we would qualify as members of Troop A by completing the timed Saber Qualification Course. We succeeded. Rocky ran fast and hard as I jabbed a heavy m1913 Patton Replica Saber into 20 or so burlap sacks stuffed with hay, strategically positioned on a field with cross jumps, bales of hay, and tarps simulating water. At the day’s end, my commander asked Rocky and me to serve in a special unit to honor our fallen comrades. “Would we be interested in training to pull the caisson, which bears the body of the veteran, at military funerals? Only four horses and riders in Maryland are selected.”

With Honor in My Heart

Exhausted, sweaty and dirty, I drove home with honor in my heart to prepare for Sunday’s Memorial Day picnic and celebration with my family.

Most of us view the weekend as the unofficial beginning of summer, with picnics, barbecues, family gatherings, and sporting events, but please, let us also remember and bestow gratitude upon the men and women who serve our country during war and peace. I miss you Eric.

Eric and Me at his USMC Graduation

USMC Graduation, Parris Island—Eric and me

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