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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Heart of a Marine

It never ceases to amaze me how this happens. Just cruising the 'Net looking for info and ending up being so inspired that the whole theme of the post changes...

I was doing some research about the plethora of "4000 milestone" articles when I came across a post over at IVAW by Adam Kokesh. Kokesh mentioned Lance Corporal Phillip Frank, who was killed near Fallujah on April 8, 2004, as one of the reasons he was protesting the Iraq War in DC this week. I have done a great deal of research on Operation Vigilant Resolve but LCpl Frank's story was not one I was familiar with. So I hopped on the trusty Google to see what I could find.

What I discovered led me first to tears then to open my checkbook. LCpl Frank joined the Marines after seeing the World Trade Center collapse on September 11, 2001. According to his wife, Keri...

The way Phillip Frank saw it, the world was becoming an increasingly dangerous place, and the best way to make it safer was to go where it was most dangerous.

"He wanted to be there to help," Frank’s 19-year-old wife, Keri, said Tuesday, the day military officials announced that Lance Cpl. Phillip E. Frank was one of two Illinois Marines and one Army soldier killed in Iraq.

Speaking from her home in suburban Elk Grove Village, she said he had joined the military to "help his country and help his family and help me, to make the world safer for us."

LCpl Frank was offered a chance to avoid going to Iraq due to injuries suffered during training...

Yet before he ever set foot in Iraq, the young Marine was offered a chance to leave the military behind. He could have returned to the civilian world and resumed his normal life. During basic training, he suffered stress fractures in both his ankles, came down with pneumonia and went on to break his foot in three places during infantry training. Concerned about his health, Marine officials offered him an honorable medical discharge, Roy Frank said. "Why don't you come home?" his parents asked. "I want to be a soldier, not fix air conditioners," he told his parents.

His parents were not surprised at their son's choice...

To his parents, joining the military was an extension of what Frank’s mother called the "protector attitude" he’d shown as a boy.
"He said he was going where he’s needed," said his mother. He told her and her husband, Roy, that the people of Iraq "deserve the freedoms we have in this country."

LCpl Phillip Frank's parents, Georgette and Roy Frank, were devastated by the death of their son. But rather than lashing out, the Franks channeled their grief in a way they believed would best honor their son.

"We had a choice to make when we lost Phil we could withdraw into our pain and our grief or we could move forward in his spirit and faith and that's what we've done," said Georgette Frank.

The Franks started the Heart of a Marine Foundation in LCpl Phillip Frank's honor. Since the Foundation was started, it has touched the lives of many service members and their families. This is from the website...

The Heart of a Marine Foundation exists solely to support service members and their families - from all branches of the United States military.

The Foundation will offer recruits, deployed military personnel and veterans comfort, moral support, and friendship.

The Foundation will provide care packages for deployed military personnel and comfort packages for injured military personnel and veterans. Additionally, other special assistance will be given as identified.

The Foundation will provide financial assistance for families of military personnel demonstrating specific unmet needs.

The Foundation will host a website enabling military personnel and/or their families access to available resources from other organizations.
The Foundation will fund and award scholarships in an effort to encourage youth who exemplify the spirit of The Heart of A Marine ideal, which is Honor, Patriotism, Loyalty, Respect, and Concern for Others.

Their latest project is such a worthy one... I really can't find words to describe it... Here's how LCpl Frank's Mom explained it to me...

Our latest endeavor is to provide Traumatic Brain Injury rehabilitation software and computers to 5 VA hospitals, 2 in Illinois, 1 in Minnesota and 2 in New Jersey. Your donation will help us on the road to fulfilling our dream to see to it that every VA hospital in the United States, that treats TBI patients, has this software and computers. This is part of our memorial to our Phil, because that is what Phil would be doing if he were alive. He would be working in a positive way to help his military brothers and sisters.

So here I was going to post a snarky piece about Kokesh flying the American Flag upside down in an attempt to "honor" the heroes that have given the ultimate sacrifice for us all. Instead I found a family that has inspired me with their generosity and love, a charity that I can definitely get behind and another hero to add to the growing list of those I admire.

Please help the Franks continue their worthy cause by visiting Heart of a Marine and clicking on the donate button. We owe it to those men and women giving their all in the name of freedom.

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