The following email was sent to my cousin, whose son is Capt. Jim in the USMC, from one of the Marines who served with Jim in Iraq.
Joe & Tara Seykora Staying In Touch Independence Day
Luke (3 yrs) & Ty (6 mos) 2006
Hello! Today we celebrate our American Independence, and we are remembering those who’s selfless service – in a heroic instant or throughout years of commitment – allows us to live, quite simply, however we want. This morning I freely chose to wake up around 8 a.m.; chose to eat a bowl of cereal (of which I chose from among six different kinds); chose to practice my Faith; and chose to take pictures (attached!) with my loving, gorgeous wife – who freely chose to say “I Do” on December 8th, 2000 – and with my two robust and vivacious sons (who did not necessarily “freely choose” to participate in these pictures!). What did you freely chose to do this morning?
We reflect upon - and even honor - those who fought in the past for our Independence today, and we celebrate those now serving/who have served in the American Armed Forces. I would submit, too, that today we celebrate those supporting our Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Soldiers. I know first-hand the positive and long-lasting effects such support gave to me and my Marines while we fought in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from July 05 to February 06. Each of you, in some way, gave of your time, resources, and love in order to support me, my family, and my Marines. The cards, emails, Motomail, pictures, cds, dvds, books, phone cards, snacks, hygiene gear (that’s Marinese for “bath supplies”) – oh, and not to mention a plethora of Christmas gifts, cookies, and decorations – came nearly non-stop in vast quantities for the majority of the 7-month deployment. And your giving was also evident on the home front, as Tara continually shared with me in emails and satellite phone calls your home-cooked meals, places to stay during her travels, trips to the airport, phone calls “just to chat”, weeding the flower garden, trimming the bushes, mowing the lawn, painting the baby’s room, trips to the hospital, babysitting, baby-showers, and continued prayer for us all.
Your gifts, help, and understanding made for Tara the deployment duration not-so-long, the solitude not-so-lonely, and the fear not-so-frightful. For me, it made the unbearable heat bearable, the menacing sand hardly noticeable, and the worry of my family’s well being absolutely minimal.
Tara and I, along with Luke and Ty, are grateful and blessed by your selfless service. Let me share with you the joy of your gifts…
Joseph Luke, as you know, is my Delight. At age Three (Feb 25, 2003) he is as much a “bringer of Light” as ever. He is extraordinarily expressive as he talks to me on the phone or in person. He’s “potty training” now, loves reading books, and is “helping” me build a deck in the back yard. He loves water! Just the other day, after we were all outside saying goodbyes to visiting family, Luke walked over to the sprinkler I had placed on the lawn and stood directly in front of it as the jet stream line of water slowly ran up and down his front side – he then turned around and let it do the same to his back side! I laughed so hard. We “play rough” together and I take him to my office once in a while. Later this year, Luke will enter a small “pre” pre-school program aboard the base. Luke is protective of his little brother, Ty, because he loves him so much.
Thaden Ty was born on December 22nd, 2005 and at 6 months old is wearing clothes normally worn at 12 months. Not sure what pool the “big boy” gene came from, but he may turn out slender like his older brother – or taller than any of us! Ty is growing before my eyes since the day I returned home and found this fourth person in my house. He is eating rice cereal now and joyfully screeches at random intervals. He loves grabbing not just my hand, but also my whole arm - and his giggle is adorable. I was on a satellite phone in Iraq immediately before and after the c-section. I knew in my Heart the moment Ty was born, and he’s held a place there ever since. I didn’t realize how much I missed him until I held him for the first time…
Tara is Gorgeous. Strong. Faithful. Courageous. Confident in Christ. And she gives – just gives – more than any person I know. As most of you are aware, she gave everything while I had to be away “Protecting Our Freedom”, as Luke says, by giving birth to Ty. And so now we have two incredible sons. She has a Master’s of Science in Management and is extremely capable of a career, but has selflessly chosen (there’s that word again) to set that aside and take on even harder, more significant work – raising our sons. She is very good at this. I daily recognize, learn from, and reap the benefits of the endless, tiring hours of work she puts in caring for our boys. Tara has recently volunteered to be on the Nursery Committee at our local church and has already shared many ideas to improve the functionality of the facilities and procedures. She’s very patriotic, fully supportive, and offers sound wisdom on a regular basis. We have so much fun together! We go on dates, travel when we can, and take the boys out on family “outings” (today we took them both to the movie “Cars” - they loved it!) She continues to amaze me in our marriage, our family, and with her kindness to others – regardless of how she feels.
Then there’s me. Besides my work as the Battalion Adjutant/S-1 Personnel Officer for Battalion Landing Team 2/2 (a Marine infantry battalion reinforced with combat engineers, artillery battery, light armored vehicles, etc.), I spend virtually all of my little spare time with the very special people mentioned above going for walks, watching movies, going on dates/family outings, BBQing, and decorating the house. This past March Tara pinned on my silver bars as I was promoted to First Lieutenant (I’ve been in the Corps for nine years already!). I exercise regularly at work and am slowly but surely building a 12’x24’ extension to our existing deck. I try to make time for a few hits on the driving range before going to Men’s Bible Study on Wednesday nights. I’ve also been asked to co-lead adult Sunday School beginning in August (somehow I think I’m the one that will be learning the most). During the past deployment, I grew personally, professionally, and spiritually in significant and permanent ways. Being apart for so long is very difficult, though, especially for the family – as many of you know. I have to lift them up to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to sustain them - and me - while we are apart. As I prepare for the next deployment departing January 2007 - this time aboard ship for six months and stopping at a variety of places in the Atlantic and Mediterranean (called a Marine Expeditionary Unit deployment or in our case, the 26th MEU) - I look forward to what God has for us during this time.
As you can see, we are blessed by the Lord through your selfless service. Thank you. Tara and I pray that we can take advantage of similar opportunities to serve you. We’d love to hear from you so we can share in your joys and struggles and keep you in continual prayer. As we Marines say,
Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful),
Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens keep thanking God for Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.
I Thessalonians 5:16-19 CEV