I remember that sleepless night in May 2005 -- I was sitting at the computer and an email came in from a favorite Marine I was supporting. It said, simply, "Can you pray for one of my men? He's bad. Really, really bad. We don't know if he will make it."
Of course, I prayed. I began knitting a prayer afghan - each stitch a wish, each row a prayer. Eventually, my friend would deliver it to Aaron at Brooke Army Medical Center.
Over the days and weeks and months and years, I learned more about Aaron Mankin. I heard about the pain of his unit in Iraq while they packed up his stuff to send it home and waited for news. I heard about the emails with his family. We prayed. We all prayed. Today, I keep his picture where I see it every day, reminding me that my struggles may truly be small. I've never met Aaron. But, I follow his progress, and I still pray for him. This combat correspondent captured my heart.
Today is the 235th Marine Corps Birthday. Today, in honor of the Marines and Aaron and so very many men and women like Aaron, please remember them. Please remember them with gratitude.
Thank you USMC --- Happy Birthday!