Friday, March 27, 2009

Read a difficult, gut-wrenching, inspiring book on my day off

When Johnny Doesn't Come Marching Home
A Mother’s Story of the Price for Freedom


by Rhonda Winfield


The wife of a Marine told me about this book, and told me she could never read it...she was never able to get past the first few pages.

Rhonda Winfield is the mother of Lance Cpl. Jason C. Redifer, 19, of Stuarts Draft, Va., who was killed Jan. 31,2005, as a result of hostile action in Babil Province, Iraq. The book is his mother's account of the lives of she and her family after Jason's death, and also his life growing up right here in the Shenandoah Valley, not too far from where I live.

It's a short book, 188 pages......but it took me the entire day into the evening to read it. I could only read about a chapter at a time, and then I'd have to put the book down because I couldn't read through my tears any longer......go do some housework, or take a break, and then come back to it.

It was a book that I could NEVER have read while my stepson was deployed. I actually heard about it before Dustin came home, but couldn't bring myself to even look for the book until after he had made it home safely.

Even knowing 'our soldier' was home safe and sound, it was a tough, tough book for me to read. This woman chronicled her family actually Living the nightmare that is always in the back of your mind when you have a loved one deployed.....the thing you never let yourself think about,but it lurks just over your shoulder.


(there were also those who told me it was a book I Shouldn't read, given the fact that Dustin is still serving and could possibly be deployed again during his career......but, if this Mother had the strength and courage to lay bare she and her family's journey of pain and grief? I could at least have the courage to read her words, couldn't I?)


I read it, and it was an amazing book. yes, there's pain, and grief....but there's also hope and inspiration in it. You can't read Jason's story, and not be touched by the depth of the life he lived in only 19 years. You can't read his family's story, and not walk away with awe, at the family's strength and faith and love.
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