It's been 12 years and 2 months since we were given the news that every parent of a serviceman fears. PFC Jason M Meyer was KIA in Operation Iraqi Freedom, on 08 APR 2003 at the Baghdad Airport.
So, how does a parent or step-parent of a war death cope? We get involved with Gold Star groups and other parents. We search on line for ways to memorialize them. We make contact with other "survivors" and groups. We never let them be forgotten.
One of the first "things" we were given, was a set of bracelets from this group, Herobracelets.org
and mine has been on my arm since I got it...except for brief periods when I got a little "crazy" and gave mine away! I think I got my first bracelet in 2004. I wore it daily until 2006, when I was able to present it to President Bush at a fundraising event for a local Congressman. I wrote to Hero Bracelets and explained what I had done, and it was replaced without comment...no questions asked.
This "new" bracelet was on my arm every day, once again. It gave me a sense of peace. I felt like Jason was always with me. At the 5th anniversary of his death in 2008, on what Iraq calls "Iraqi Freedom" day, we were in Washington, DC at Arlington National Cemetery, where Jason is buried. We were part of a special dedication ceremony and dinner with the Iraqi Prime Minister. Once again, I was moved to give away my Jason bracelet. It felt right to give a bracelet to the leaders of both the USA and Iraq. I once again contacted Hero Bracelets and explained that I needed another bracelet. Once again, no questions were asked and a replacement was sent.
I've had thus bracelet since 2008...7 long years. It's on my arm every day. I've had to have a couple of surgeries on my right arm since 2006. My surgeon is a very compassionate man. He understands the importance of wearing the bracelet. He tells me he understands how much wearing the bracelet means. When we've been talking about the surgery, he holds my hand and tells me that "Jason will need to be on the other arm for a few weeks" until I heal. I even take it to the hospital with me and return it to my arm in the recovery room.
I use the bracelet to educate students. I'm a substitute teacher and talk about Iraq and the cost for freedom whenever I can. I know that reports have been written about Jason since his death. We've been contacted by schools when "Hero Projects" are due. We've met some of the students who have written the reports and done the projects. We've spoken to kids that have worn his name at sporting events and shared his information.
Jason's death has brought us many friends. Unfortunately, they're friends that we wish we'd never met. Meeting them usually means that they have also lost someone while they were serving our country. Many of them also wear Hero Bracelets.
I guess that I want to tell everyone here that wearing my Hero Bracelet means that Jason is always with me. Jason may have been my stepson, but his dad and I both lost him. He's been gone now, longer than he was in my life. I married my husband on January 2, 1993. We lost Jason 10 years later. He's been gone for 12 years. We continue to honor him. We continue to remember him. We will never forget.
Deb Meyer, Military Mom
My Heroes don't wear capes, they wear Kevlar.