Recently, I attended the funeral of Private Reece Moreno, a Third Infantry Division soldier killed in Iraq. In the Patriot Guard Riders flag line, I stood next to Samantha, a local mother of a 3ID soldier and also the mother of a serving US Marine. At the funeral, we spoke briefly to Reece's mother, Regan, and told her to always remember that what her son had chosen for his life was important... that he was important.
A few days after the funeral, I was contacted by Lori, another local mom of a 3ID soldier and she asked if I would accompany her to present the Gold Star banner from Gold Star Mothers of America to Regan and Private Moreno's family. I said that I would be honored.
Today, Lori and I visited Private Moreno's mother and stepfather and Lori presented Regan with her banner, which they promptly hung proudly in the front window of their home.
Of course, there were tears -- more of that liquid love straight from the heart to our eyes -- as we embraced and talked of Reece. Regan proudly told us of his love for the Army, for his brothers and sisters, for his nieces, for his friends. She shared with us a video the family had made of Reece with pictures and the video of Reece's high school band... of he and his best friend Taylor. It was a priviledge to watch this video and see the tiny baby cradled in his mother's arms grow to a chunky toddler, to a strapping young man, to the proud young soldier.
The video contained three songs -- one picked by Reece's mom, one picked by his fiancee, and one picked by his sisters -- James Blunt's "You're Beautiful". Turns out that just before Reece deployed, the whole family took a vacation to Nevada together just to have fun and to hang out... and one of the last memories his sisters have of Reece was all of them singing that song and laughing in the car on that last vacation together.
When we left, we reminded Regan that if she needed anything -- another mom to cry with or a shoulder to lean on or someone to vent the anger that will come -- we would be there for her.
Today, Regan received this from someone she works with and she said it brought her much comfort, so I share it with you:
Death is Nothing at All
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
whatever we were to each other
that we still are
call me by my old familiar name
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used
put no difference in your tone
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together
pray smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
without the trace of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
it is the same as it ever was
there is unbroken continuity
why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you
somewhere very near
just around the corner
All is well
-- Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)
Canon of St Paul's Cathedral
We have always wondered where we find such men as Reece... and today I wonder where we find such mothers who raise such men, send them to war... and show such dignity and pride when they return... and when they die. Where do we find such women like Regan.