As the mother of a Marine, I have made it a point to try to understand the culture of the Marine Corp and what it means to be a Marine. Embedded in the corps is an amalgam of codes under which a Marine must adhere to remain ‘Semper Fidelis’, forever faithful to the Marines.John waves hello

Marines don’t leave Marines behind. Marines don’t desecrate corpses. Marines don’t rape, plunder or pillage. These injunctions and many others comprise a code, a warrior’s code that defines a Marine.

My son John, a corporal and a grunt, served two tours in Iraq, returning last March and he knows that I stand sometimes with Women in Black on the corner of Highways 101 and 42 in Bandon. I can’t speak for the others who stand there each Friday but I stand there to mourn our loss, I stand to mourn the fallen.

I stand to mourn and to pay my respects to PFC Timothy “Shane’ Folmar, 21, of Sonora, Texas who died just feet away from my son. I pray for 1st Lieutenant Matthew Lynch, 25, who uttered his last words in my son’s presence. I pray for Capt Pat ‘Frenchy’ Rapicault, CO of Whiskey Company whose death by a vehicle borne IED was caught on camera by news crews and for whom my son was called out to ‘clean up after’.

Just as important to me, I mourn for the lives that ended by my son’s own hand. I pray for the mothers of the men my son killed because I know they too are grieving. I grieve for the children who lost their fathers and brothers and loved ones. And I mourn the innocence lost to that fresh faced Marine who left for war not so long ago and has returned forever changed.

I choose to pay my respects publicly because I hope that as people pass they might reflect long enough to send ‘Shane’ Folmar, who died ‘facing the enemy’ and his family a prayer. I hope people will reflect long enough to do the same for all the fallen warriors and their families. I hope that reflecting on these losses, on the heavy price of any war places the weight of that war on all our shoulders, not just those that suffer loss.

My son understands and supports my desire to pay my respects in this public way. The Marines in Ramadi, where John was stationed held many memorials for their own. In keeping with Marine conduct they allowed the Iraqi people to mourn their dead in peace.

Many oppose our vigil in Bandon each Friday as witnessed by the honking horns and shouted expletives. The Marines I mentioned above and over 2,000 others US warriors gave up their lives for an ideal which gives anyone the right to object to our vigil. Still, for me as I stand holding my candle, I can’t help feeling that this behavior would be unbefitting a United States Marine.