View Full Version : Mom made this Marine

09-05-08, 03:48 PM
Published on Friday, September 05, 2008

Mom made this Marine

By Joseph Kinney

She cried when I gave her the news. I didn’t know what to expect but she met my words with a flood of tears.

It was 1967 and I told my mother I was going into the Marine Corps. Her response, no doubt, was based upon her unconditional love for me. Her caring was patterned after what her mother had given to my uncle Perry some 27 years earlier when he decided to join the Marines at the onset of World War II.

Could it be that joining the Marines was in my genes?

My mother died shortly before Labor Day. Her death came peacefully. A merciful God let her die in her sleep in the hospice that had been her home for a year. I will miss my mother’s support and encouragement, even during my darkest hours.

My mother’s 81 years were full ones. She was 14 years old when her brother, Perry, went off to war. Her mother would give still another son, Dwain, to the Marines for the Korean War.
Price to pay

War is a crushing experience. Victory always comes at a price, including that borne by mothers and families. I always knew that my parents were there for me. Hardly a week passed and there was a care package at mail call.

I gave them a close call. In 1969, a courier showed up at our home with a Western Union Telegram. My mom began to cry, anticipating that I had fallen in defense of this nation. Fortunately, the message, from Marine Commandant Leonard Chapman, said that I had been severely wounded in combat. My mother always kept that telegram.

My list of wants in war never varied: Vaseline, Tang powder and white cotton socks. My mom went beyond and included chocolate chip cookies, brownies or some other homemade goodie. I knew that I was a high priority, more than I deserved. Whatever my mom sent, it was sealed with her tender love.

Earlier in life, our economic situation was shaped by the health of a younger brother, Chris, who suffered severe polio at birth. In those days, there was no health insurance. Chris would spend weeks at a time in the hospital and my parents piled up a mountain of debt. They paid every penny. In more ways than one, Chris has returned this love. He was there when my father died in 2007, tending to his every need. He once again made the trek from Houston to Milwaukee to be with my mom.

Maternal love cannot be fleeting. When I was small, my father converted our garage into a bedroom for my brothers and me. I went with him to the lumberyard where he bought 2-by-4s to make our beds. At the Army Surplus store, he found wool blankets to keep us warm during the brutal Kansas winters. About that time, my mother took on a job as the night switchboard operator at the hospital. She would come home after her 3-to-11 p.m. shift and make sure that we were always covered. I always pretended to be asleep when she kissed me on my forehead.

Do mothers make Marines? In her death, it is a question I must ask. The answer is most decidedly a positive one. My mother, along with my God, gave me the moral compass and the values that I needed to serve as a Marine. She gave me the sense of family that my buddies in green shirts would become as I pledged to serve this nation.

My mother never asked for anything from me. As she moved into the hospice, I found a small painting of a young boy with his dog that I brought to her. She was sure that I painted it. I let her believe that.

I can look back now and see how much my mother gave me. I am so very proud to be her son, and to live in a nation where I can relish the great moments that she gave to me. My mother will not be getting the funeral befitting a United States Marine even though she shaped the Marine that I had become. I, in a way, was her gift to this country.

Mom, I hope that you someday get a chance to read these words. If I could, I would offer you the salute you deserve. In your own precious way, you have given this nation a gift that maybe only a son can appreciate. This will be our secret. Thanks for a job well done. Carry on, mother, carry on.
Joseph Kinney is a former member of the Observer’s Community Advisory Board. He is a decorated Marine veteran who lives in Pinehurst.


09-17-08, 10:37 AM
What a great son! Thank you for sharing this.

10-05-08, 04:56 AM
You are a wonderful son and your mother was blessed to have you

10-05-08, 10:49 PM
I capitalize the other "M," to make it MoM, i.e Mother Of Marine, as in, my wife.

After some 17 years, my wife watched her son raise his hand and swear the oath. She knows all to well the love, and worry, of a MoM.

To Marine Kinney, the tradition carries on.

10-11-08, 01:25 PM
When i showed this to my Mother.... she started to cry.. because she knows that she wont be able to stop me... and the possibility of me never coming home hurts her greatly... but this is helping her cope with my decision to join the Corp... Thank You so much for this.