"For those that had their lives taken Mom"
Posted By: Leigh Ann Haga 12-04-11
My daughter was only 13 months old when we lost her father, it was going to be her and I against the world. I knew that I was going to have to be strong, and better yet, make her stronger. What I didnt know was that 17 years later, she would become one of the STRONGEST EVER!! A MARINE!
She started to show interest in the Armed Forces in the eigth grade. When 9/11 happened and we were living in Northern Virginia she was devistated at the innocent lives lost and kept asking "But Mom, what are WE going to do about it?" Together we participated in every event that we could (with me being a native New Yorker) to support the families of 09/11. It literally hit home. Fast forward to High School. My daughter joined the Navy JrROTC and excelled. She became Platoon leader. It was ironic that her Chief happened to be a Medic in the Marine Corps for eight years. During the time with her, he saw that she could be a MARINE and referred her to the Leesburg recruiting sub station in Leesburg, VA and Sgt. McNew.
Sgt McNew worked closely with her and trained her, keeping her motivated, strong and watching close as he molded her for boot camp. The day after her 18th birthday, my daughter came home to me and asked me to sit down. I had thought that she was going to go into the Navy since her Grandfather did two tours of Vietnam and her Grandfather was in WWII. She said "Mom, I just signed to go into the Marine Corp."
I sat there silent, and I looked at her. My mind went into twenty different directions. I had a one word question "Why". I never expected the answer that she was about to give me. "Mom, All those people on 09/11, the mom's, the dad's, the sons and daughters, those that lost their lives innocently, for no reason, the families that still suffer right now, that is why. I want to do something about it". An 18 year old girl that loved malls, labeled clothing, make up and hair spray wanted to become a part of the most elite fighting force in the world because she remembered and wanted to make a difference. My heart stopped.
I stood up, wrapped my arms around her and said "You get them baby, you can do this". I had dedicated my life to her, never remarrying. Now, my little girl was going to dedicate her life to God, Country and Corp. I had to stand behind her. She left for Boot Camp on September 20th 2010 to Parris Island, SC.
I stood tall and strong as I watched the van pull off. Once they were out of sight I dropped to my knees and prayed that God would take over and give her the strength to endure what she was about to face. Give me the strength to endure what I was about to face. Now the wait. I was well prepared by her Recruiting Sgt. of what to expect. One phone call when she arrived. Very brief. She arrived and was safe. That was all. Three weeks later the first letter came. The "What did this recruit do?" letter. I wrote back "You did exactly what your heart and soul told you to do and you know what, YOU CAN AND WILL BE A MARINE!!" The letters continued to follow, each one getting better and better as the weeks passed. My family, friends and work collegues all wrote to her, along with members of my fathers American Legion Post cheering her on!! There was no doubt, THAT RECRUIT WAS GOING TO BE A MARINE!! 13 weeks later, it was time for the Cruicable. I can honestly say that I didnt sleep for 54 hours. I read through the material, knew exaclty what she was doing for each step and prayed HARD!!
Then the call came. A very tired but proud voice on the line, "Mom?" "Yeah Baby", "Mom, I'm a MARINE!, I got pinned this morning!". I dont think that I ever screamed louder, stood taller or cryed harder. Her voice, although tired was filled with pride and joy. She had made it. She was now living her dream. She was pinned on 12/11/10 with her Eagle, Globe and Anchor. The picture that you see below is the first time that I got to touch my daughter in 13 weeks on December 17th, graduation day, on the parade deck of Parris Island, SC. Was the 13 weeks hard? YES! Was supporting her decision hard? ABSOLUTELY! Did I drive her recruiter nuts with my questions? YES! did I have a lot of support from Marines forums, Family, Friends, Strangers, American Legions and the recruiting substation? YES! I would not have made it without them.
Over a year later, my daughter serves in Quantico Virginia, and Bin Laden was captured on her watch!! I wish i had a tape recording of that call that I got from her! She is living her dream AND she was able to be in the Armed Forces when they captured the man behind the killing of all those innocent people. My daughter will never be the same, and neither will I. It was the best decision that she ever made and I ever supported. SEMPER FI!!!
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