09 October, 2006

War Widow

Update: Deb's friend has written an extended post about the funeral.

I don't know how to introduce the following, other than to give the background and let the emails speak for themselves. It was written by a woman who attended the funeral of Marine Captain Justin Peterson, who died in a non-combat accident in Iraq. He left behind a wife and three young children, including an infant. I think it speaks volumes about the Brotherhood and the strength of a great lady. Deb of Marine Corps Moms forwarded it to me with a preface:

A friend of mine attended his funeral - not a Marine mom, her son tried but was kept out because of allergies and asthma. She'd e-mailed me to ask if it would be appropriate to go and that the Phelps crowd had threatened to show up and was a bit apprehensive about that. I encouraged her and told her that the Patriot Guard riders would run interference with Phelps. So, she packed up her 4 sons and drove down [from Canada]. Here's her e-mail to me:

I am just whacked, but I wanted to send you a quick note. The funeral was really quite something. The most memorable part was when the message from his company was read by one of his friends. He was in a really small 11-man unit, so almost all of his men were there. The young man trying to read the message from all of the men nearly didn't make it through. He stood there for nearly five minutes before he could stop clenching his jaw, began reading, then choked to a stop, blew his nose and said,"Allergies" then tried to start again. After stopping again and trying to keep going, the captain's widow walked up onto the podium, put her arms around the young Marine reading and stood there holding him and giving him tissues as he needed. He barely managed to get through what he had to say, and there wasn't a dry eye in the place. The other Marines had been holding up pretty well until the widow went up, and then they started crying, too. There was one man there whom everyone saluted, and he had a lot more medals and stuff (I'm hopeless about ranks, etc. ) and he just sat with kleenex in both hands, tears rolling. When the young Marine finished reading, the widow walked him back to his chair, gave him a hug, and wiped away his tears with her own hanky.

Later in the day, she added more:

Yes, Mrs. Peterson is quite a strong lady. She wrote a message to be read there, at her husband's funeral. Her sister read it, as her family wouldn't let her read it herself. They said it wasn't done, and that it would be too hard on her. That lady had to keep bailing everyone else out, I'm telling you! She kept worrying about everyone else at the funeral, and personally escorted some of the Patriot Gaurds into a pew. We were told that usually the families are grateful for their presence but don't invite them into the funeral. However, Mrs. Peterson insisted that at least the Ride Captain and a few of his men should come inside and stay with them.

There's just so much to think about, but what an amazing woman!

As Deb said, "Amazing, yes. Her husband would be so proud of her."