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Marine Wife's Thoughts on Memorial Day

  • By Virginia Cisneros

Ginny Cisneros, whose husband, retired Colonel Phil Cisneros, served 43 years in the United States Marine Corps. She is a columnist with many local newspapers, including a Monterey Park & West Valley Journal.

Monday the 26 May 2008, Memorial Day, will be the day to honor and remember all of our Military Veterans past and the present and of our active duty Military men and women that have lost their lives so that freedom would prevail for all. They lost their lives for our country, the ultimate sacrifice.

Through our years in the Marine Corps, we have lost friends and loved ones. Starting with the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom- 1, Iraqi Freedom- 2, Iraqi Freedom-5 and now Operation Enduring Freedom.

As I reflect on these wars, I think back to how very young we were. At that time if you were an 18 year old, you were not old enough to vote. However, you were old enough to be married, have children, and serve your country.

Being a young wife and mother at age 17, It was hard for me to understand the energetic enthusiasm of these young boys, high school age, wanting to “join up”. It was as if these boys had that agenda on life until they turned 21. We were not of “legal” age, but we had to prove to the world and ourselves by taking positive action to show that, yes, we were young adults and were not afraid to take on responsibilities of a “ 21 year old grown up”. We did.

As the war in Korea progressed, we as military wives lived at home with our parents.
After all, living in military housing was not an option, much less the availability of “choice”. Our husbands were Privates and Corporals. My husband joined the Marines in 1950. We managed.
Living in east Los Angeles during that time, we were with family and wives that had gone through the 2nd World War. They were my mentors. Some of them survived the long separations of 3 to 4 years, while their husbands, loved ones, and sons were at war.

Communication in those days were very slow. Writing letters was our best communication. You were lucky if someone had a television set! Although there was not much in the media on war news in those days. In September, 1951, my husband wrote from the war in Korea that he had been wounded, right along with our high school friend, David Ozuna. He said “I lit a cigarette for David and told him you are going home buddy, you’ve got a million dollar wound, tell Ginny I be seeing her whenever, I’ll be sticking around here for a while!” He also told me that David never would make it home. He died before he could get shipped home.

Meanwhile, I would see his mom at church, and she would ask if I had been receiving mail, because she had not heard from David. I knew what she didn’t know… All I could say was that mail was extremely slow. It was not until a month later that I received a telegram from the President of the United States telling me my husband had been wounded in action. Mrs. Ozuna received her letter to inform her with regrets that her son was killed in action.

All of us wives in our parish and neighborhood belonged to a mutual caring club. They were Army, Navy, and Air Force wives. All with faith that our husbands would come home. We would each embrace our fellow wives, mothers with great compassion. Especially those whose loved one would not be coming home. For it could have been one of us. When these young boys came home, they returned as young men. Confident that they would be able to tackle life’s challenges and mature enough to love and care for the families they had left behind. These young men had been given the ultimate test of survival…..as did their wives and families.

How does one cope with these memories? Very carefully. We thank God for the faith and strength to be able to cope the many tests He placed before us. For there was more to endure as the years have passed. I would like to think that all of those little tests continue to prepare us for big tests. We must not forget our fallen comrades. All of our Veterans, our Military, our beloved Marines. Honor their memories and the dreams they had for the loved ones they left behind.

For those of us who survived the agony of war, let us cherish and love and hold dearly what we do have. For there, but for the Grace of God, it could have been our loved one to perish in the horrors of war. For some of us it was. AMEN.
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