For Byron

Words I of't times heard before-
that “Freedom isn't Free”.
But that was long before I knew
how they would impact me.

A baby boy I loved so much –
I watched him learn and grow.
He grew into a strong young man,
how brave – I did not know.

Little League and high school band,
the trumpet, movies, friends –
things he enjoyed as years went by –
I hoped it would not end.

But graduation time came near,
now he was nineteen.
“I'm old enough. I'm ready, Mom,
to become the best Marine!”

Then off to Boot Camp far away,
and with the Crucible done –
His Eagle, Globe and Anchor,
he had finally, proudly won.

Standing tall, his face a beam –
a new United States Marine!

I knew that there were dangers.
My fear I tried to hide,
but the sight of him in uniform
filled my heart with pride.

A clear September morning as I saw the buildings fall,
my brave son was list'ning for his Nation's urgent call.
The world had changed in minutes,
for now we were at war.
“Don't worry, Mom. I'm trained for this.
It's what Marines are for.”

He left his home and traveled to a desert far away.
On quiet nights, I'd close my eyes
and I could almost hear him say –
“I love you, Mom, and miss you,
but there's a job I have to do.
As a Marine, now it's my turn
to be protecting you.”

Sleepless nights of worry, anxiety and fears;
Praying for his safety and crying countless tears.
Afraid to even think the worst –
the knock upon the door –
Knowing that had happened to other Moms before.

Oh, God, then it happened – the worst did come to pass –
In dark of night, the knock did come
and through the front door's glass –
I see them there in coats of blue with
buttons of bright brass.

I could not hear the words they spoke,
I could only cry and scream –
“This can't be true, this isn't real.
Please tell me it's a dream!”

As minutes turned to hours
and the hours into days,
pain and sadness stretched ahead
in such a foggy haze.

I close my eyes and, once again,
I hear his gentle voice.
“I'm alright, Mom, and I'm still here.
You know it was my choice.

My friends were hurt, I had to try
to get them out of there.
It is the code of honor
that we Marines all share.”

I know he had to do it –
He could not walk away.
I'm grateful for the courage
that he displayed that day.

The sorrow's deep inside me –
So much, it seems I've lost.
But he wants me to remember
that Freedom has a cost.

There is no greater gift, they say,
than to lay down one's life for friends.
I will keep his gift in memory
until my life here ends.

I love you, Son, and thank you,
for your special gift to me –
I will always know
That Freedom isn't Free!

By Janet Aston Norwood
Proud Gold Star Mother of
Sgt. Byron Wayne Norwood
KIA Fallujah, Iraq
November 13, 2004

He gave his life to defend Liberty at home and to give the gift of
Liberty to the good people of Iraq. Byron, I love you and I will be
forever proud and grateful for your sacrifice.

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