Debbie Lee is a friend of mine. We met through Melanie Morgan during one of the Move America Forward national tours.  The only photo I have of us together is on an old computer hard drive, and one of these days I will retrieve the data, photos and all, but for now, I’ve posted this photo of her with ThirdWaveDave Logan, taken nearly two years ago during a push-back rally against Code Pink for their attack on the Marine Recruiting Office in Berkeley, CA. Gold Star Mom Debbie just sent a Christmas message I want to share with you.

(Left to Right) Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee; Dave Logan; Blue Star Mom Deborah Johns

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Gift Exchange

Christmas, a time of celebration, food, families, gift exchanges and fun for most people. Yet one of those difficult times in the lives of those who grieve the loss of a loved one. I’ve learned ways to cope with grief better and I know that without the strength and peace that Christ gives me that I wouldn’t have survived. Most of the time I try to focus on the blessings of being Marc’s Mom for 28 years, and the joyful moments and memories I share of Marc, yet I still find myself stumbling on the teary moments where my heart aches for my dear son Marc.

I’ve just returned from Chicago and as I rushed through the airport to hurry up and wait in the security line where everyone is shedding their shoes, jackets, belts and whatever else might set off the security alarms, I noticed a young man in uniform that stopped me in my tracks.

I travel often and my routine in the airports is to have my “thank you” cards in one pocket and my “hero” cards with Marc’s picture in the other. It’s so ingrained in me that without even being aware of it my eyes scan the airport back and forth with my “troop radar” looking for those who are defending me and fighting for my freedoms.

My glance forward at that moment found my eyes gazing on the black uniform with white piping and the big square collar. Even though this Sailor was headed down the opposite concourse and was quite a ways ahead of me, I knew I had to chase him down and thank him. This one would be hard, a staunch reminder of Marc and the last time I saw him in this uniform. It’s as if I could almost see Marc there and touch him.

I tapped the Sailor on the shoulder from behind and handed him a thank you card, then handed him Marc’s hero card, and thanked him for serving. I asked if I could give him a big hug and told him I was a little partial to this uniform and pointed out that the hero card was my son. I could feel the tears coming, so I quickly hugged him and turned the opposite way to hide the tears. Oh how I miss my Sailor, my son, my Mighty Warrior, Marc. That’s what his name means “Mighty Warrior,” and that he was!

I had to stop to compose myself. I watched as so many people bustled through the airport with excitement on their way to visit families for Christmas.

I noticed another Soldier and I made my way over to him. I noticed he was on the phone so I handed him a thank you and hero card to share my love and appreciation, and went on my way.

Another gate finds another young soldier headed home for his Grandfather’s funeral, he had just returned from Afghanistan so I ask how it was going over there. More hugs and cards are shared, just a simple reminder of the deep gratitude and love that I have for each and every one of our men and women who have or are serving.

I took my seat on the plane next to a young man in sweats with his hood up and sunglasses on. As he took down his hood I recognize the haircut and ask if he is in the military? Sure enough, a Marine just back from Afghanistan headed home to Chicago for the Holidays. I tell him thanks as I typically do and handed him cards and told him when he gets back overseas to send me his address and I will make sure he gets a care package.

My mind focused on his reunion with his family for Christmas and the joys that would be shared. These young men that I had just met tonight would be sharing in the Holiday festivities and exchanging gifts Christmas morning with their loved ones.

So many of our brave warriors won’t be home for the holidays. Many families face empty seats at their Christmas dinners this year.

Marc won’t ever be able to participate in another Christmas dinner or gift exchange. He made his best and final gift exchange on Aug 2, 2006. He gave his life for our freedoms. Why does that not surprise me, Marc loved to give gifts and always went the extra mile to find just that perfect gift. Marc’s final day he stood in the direct line of fire three different times to save his buddies.

John 15:13 talks about that depth of love, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Marc gave the most precious gift he had, his life. He shared his love in the deepest possible way. He gave his life for you, for me, for this country that he so loved. The gift he gave was priceless and yet he is not alone. So many other’s have given their lives, their limbs, their futures, and I will never forget.

As we celebrate Christmas I think of that first Christmas and the gift exchange that took place. “The Savior-yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Luke 2:11 NLT

Christ exchanged his home in Heaven, His throne to come to Earth knowing he would sacrifice His life to save the world.

I understand a little of what Mary must have gone through, we share having a son who would sacrifice their lives so that others could live. Marc exchanged his life for us, for here, for now, for our freedoms. Christ sacrificed his life for everyone, in the past, present and future so that they could have freedom from the punishment for our sins and live for an eternity with Him.

We have been given some of the most priceless and amazing gifts. Our freedoms and safety, by our men and women who fought and sacrificed, and our eternal security and freedoms by our Savior who loves us so deeply. I have so much to rejoice in and be grateful for this Christmas.

This Christmas as you unwrap the gifts that have been exchanged and as the wrapping paper lies on the floor ask yourself have I opened the gift that Christ gave to me that first Christmas? Do I know those who have given those priceless life giving gifts, Jesus Christ and our troops. What will you do with the priceless gifts that have been given to you?

Marc had opened that gift Christ gave him and he believed and so do I and I will be reunited one day again in Heaven with Marc and all of those who have gone before. I hope I will see you there too!

Merry Christmas and may God bless you.

Debbie Lee

All the best to you and your family

America’s Mighty Warriors