The night was November 28, 2006.
Garland Mason was at his computer, preparing to exchange e-mails with his son in Iraq before calling it a night. “And something happened to me, and I said, ‘Wow. Something has happened to Chris.’”
He thought about waking his wife, Suzie, Chris' mother, but he didn't. If what he was feeling was true, she would need those few precious hours of sleep.
"The next morning around 6 o'clock the doorbell rang, and I said, ‘Don't get up. I know who it is.’ And I got up and looked out of the window and I saw the two soldiers standing there." And since that moment, for Garland Mason and his wife, everyday is a balancing act.
On one side there is intense pride… on the other, an unquenchable feeling of loss. Such is the pain of a family that has lost one of its own, to war.
United States Marine Corporal Chris Mason was only 32-years-old when he was killed by enemy fire in Iraq, an ironic end to someone who was so friendly. He craved adventure, finding it in the Rodeo as a rodeo clown. Dangerous, to be sure, but another way to reach out to people. And those who knew Chris say he seldom met a stranger, a by-product of his Christian upbringing, say his parents.
"I support my son that’s there right now, Chaplain Garland Mason."
For this family, Memorial Day is more than a long weekend vacation, and as their neighbors get lost in celebrating with their families, this family has one request. “Stop and remember! Stop long enough to remember the men and women who have given their lives for this nation. They don't expect this country to come to a stop. The reason they done that is so you can continue to live your life as you're living it now, as I'm living my life."
Chris Mason believed in this country so much, that, like so many others, he was willing to give his life for it. But to understand how Chris truly felt, perhaps it's best to let Chris tell you himself. These are his words: “We choose to believe that the patch we wear on our right shoulder stands for something that's greater than ourselves, that's greater than where we're from... the fabric that holds the flag together.”
This weekend, in memory of Chris Mason, there will be a Memorial car show at the Winn Dixie at Airport Boulevard and Snow Road. All funds will go to "Homes for our Troops," an effort to build new homes for disabled military personnel and their families.
To find out more about Corporal Chris Mason, take a look at some of the video tributes below which have been posted by friends and family on YouTube.Cpl. Christopher E. Mason "Strength and Honor" Cpl Chris Mason's brother speaks about Chris Cpl Chris Mason KIA 2006 82nd Airborne Pays Tribute REMEMBERING A FALLEN HERO:CORPORAL CHRIS "ED" MASON
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