Remembering on Memorial Day

As my husband prepares to deploy to Iraq again in a few months, Memorial Day is more meaningful this year.

Brandon has lost friends and classmates in this war. He has had the honor of being a “casualty assistance officer” to a local Massachusetts family who lost a son, husband, father and brother in this war. He has been tasked with the impossible job of informing a mother that her son gave his life serving the country he loved. (SFC Keith Callahan, CPT Josh Byers, CPT Ian Weikel, CPT Jimmy Adamouski – you are not forgotten).

And yet, he is ready and willing to go again and serve his country.  We are grateful for the valor and sacrifice of the men and women of the United States military.

And I am grateful that God has protected my soldier when he flew his Chinook helicopter,

when he sat on Saddam Hussein’s throne,


when he jumped out of airplanes,

when he commanded an air traffic control company in Tikrit, Iraq in the early stages of the war,

when he and his soldiers cared for an Iraqi community,

iraq_friends  hamel

when he and his crew saved a paratrooper’s life,

when he was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service,


when he came home safe.


I look forward to saying to my daughters on days when they’re feeling down or when they lack confidence or they underestimate their worth, “Hold your head high, darling. Your Daddy’s a hero.”


I wrote this post “Shout Out to My Souljah Boy” almost a year ago, but I wanted to add it here again to honor Brandon. Thanks for reading!


I was trying to clean up our old computer, delete ancient files, make some more space. I came across a letter that I do not think I had ever read before. It was written by my dear husband to our firstborn, while he was serving a year-long deployment in Iraq. Rhema was born about 6 weeks after Brandon deployed, and he returned home when she was almost 1 yr. old.

6 September 2004 (from Tikrit, Iraq)

Precious Rhema,

I remember the first time I ever thought about you. Your mother surprised me—although as soon as I saw her face, I knew what she was about to say. I remember her beaming face. You were so small then. Smaller than my pinky fingernail. Yep, definitely smaller than that. I was speechless, so speechless that your mother had to ask if I was excited. Oh, I was, I just don’t show excitement too much thinking it to reveal my immaturity. I imagined the cradle your mother’s body was. I was so concerned for her for she never sits still. Then you started to make a bump of your mother’s tummy. I watched you grow from inside. One day, we went to the doctor and I got to watch you sleep inside mommy as you were growing. My goodness. It was a miracle. I looked at those pictures of you resting inside Mommy often while I was away. I had to go to Iraq to protect you, which meant I wasn’t there when you were born. But, I am coming home soon. I can’t wait to hold you. I can’t wait to try to teach you something. I can’t wait until you recognize me. I can’t wait until you scream “daddy” when I come through the door. I can’t wait until you are old enough to know about Jesus. (I pray you accept Him at a young age and follow Him forever.) I can’t wait until I see you play sports. I can’t wait to see you sing. I can’t wait to see you make us all proud as you head off to college. I can’t wait to see you accomplish a million things your mother and father didn’t. I can’t wait to see you married to a Godly husband. I can’t wait to see you and your family (my grandchildren) take on the world for Christ. But, I have to wait. I don’t want to rush any moments. I want to slow down and cherish each second.

Your daddy loves you with all his heart. I hope I get to be your hero.


Just wanted you to know, dear Brandon, that you’re her hero. Remember the sign that was posted in the old gym in Germany at your homecoming from war? Even though, you are still waiting to hear her scream “Daddy!”, you are her hero.

Every time you teach her something new – be it pulling up her pants or using a spoon – you’re her hero.

Every time you fall on your knees before God on her behalf, you’re her hero.

Every time you hold her in your loving, strong arms for a butt-shot, you’re her hero. 8)

Every time you sing “Yes, Jesus loves Rhema”, you’re her hero.

Every time you clean up the poop art, you’re her hero.

At every doctor’s appointment, therapy visit and school meeting, you’re her hero.

Every time you get up early and seek God’s face on how to lead this family, you’re her hero.

Just wanted you to know.

25 thoughts on “Remembering on Memorial Day

  1. thank you.

    i have no words . they’re just not adequate. the gratitude is to big, the sense of indebtedness far too great to fit into an envelope of words. it just doesn’t work.

    i have tears. they’re flowing as i write. but they don’t say it either.

    thank you.

    brandon, his fellow soldiers, you, the girls.

    thank you.

    this incredible sacrifice is beyond my understanding.

    thank you.

  2. You are blessed girl. God has granted you such a beautiful Mother’s heart and your husband has such a tender Father’s heart! I pray he will have that amazing moment of hearing Rhema call, “Daddy!” soon.

    I don’t know why I bother reading your blog after I have put my mascara on…

  3. I wanted to invite you to participate in “Blogger Appreciation Week” this week! You were one of the bloggers I mentioned by name in hopes that many more sweet sisters would find your blog and be blessed by it!!

  4. Hello! I wanted to stop by and say hello. I am so glad that I did. Reading through your post reminds me to not take for granted the little things. To not forget that it is just being who you are, that makes you someones Hero. It is loving them, and the little things matter more than we know. Thank you for posting!

  5. Thank you to Brandon, and to your whole family, for the sacrifices you make. May God go before you and behind you, and place his hand of blessing upon your heads always!

  6. Well, merciful heavens, Jeneil! Will I ever read one of your posts without squinting through the tears in my eyes?! This is precious. Brandon is precious. Rhema is precious. Hope is precious. You are precious. You all heroes … and the Lord’s most treasured possessions. May He continue to richly bless you all on this Memorial Day … and on every day. 🙂

  7. My…my memorial day sped by so fast–a whirlwind of laundry and errands–I never stopped to think about the true meaning. Thanks for the reminder. I feel so scattered and ungrateful…

  8. We live in a military community, so deployments are regular fare over here, although painfully difficult for most. Thank your precious husband for his service to our country. His sacrifice, both at home and abroad, is deeply felt and appreciated by this family.

    He is our hero, too. So are you, mom. I don’t know how you manage your life without him by your side. Truly, God gives a special grace to wives and husbands who “go it alone”, even if only for a season.

    Keep walking, friend.


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