When our 20-year-old daughter informed us that she had “met a wonderful young man,” my husband and I shared a cautious glance. “Oh, and he’s a Marine Scout Sniper,” she added over her shoulder. Our exposure to the military was scant then and Marine Scout Sniper sounded like a precarious title to attach to your heart. She assured us we would “love Ben.” And love Ben we did. He was gregarious and full of life. Lately I hadn’t thought much about the war in Afghanistan, that place far away in the dry, dusty desert where people killed each other. I had never even known a Marine — and yet here was one sitting at my kitchen table, young, bright, handsome and the love of my daughter’s life.
I cautioned my girl, but her heart was already his. Ben had seen too much death and destruction on his first tour and came home from Afghanistan with a vision for change. Despite his feelings about the war, first and foremost he was a Marine and proud of it and we were proud of our Marine too.
That foggy, cold August evening Ben and Taylor sat all night long with the other Marines and their families awaiting his final deployment. We hung our flag and began counting the days. I asked everyone for “good thoughts” and “prayers” to ensure his safe return. On September 11th, Ben posted that he was “fighting for his friends and family and proud to be their ambassador of peace.”
I thought I was hearing things, that day, the 10th anniversary of the war. I flew up the staircase to find my girl crumpled, crying, screaming “no, no, no.” The unthinkable had happened. Our Ben, our Marine, had been killed in Hellman Province. Something died in all of us that day, but something was solidified in our hearts and minds. The validity of the war can be debated but the sacrifice and commitment of the young men and women that serve our country cannot. Every day each one of us must remember that our Ben, our Marine, was and is everyone’s Marine.
With a Perspective, I’m Cybele Ryan.