|Lance Cpl. Freeman Comes Home|
Ronald “Dougie” Freeman, a violin player and a graduate of Plant City High School, came back home this past week just in time for Mother’s Day. Unfortunately, it was not the homecoming anyone would have imagined only a month ago, nor the homecoming anybody really wanted.
Since September 2001, Mother’s Day celebrations in many homes across this country have been darkened by the loss of a family member serving in the military. As of this Mother’s Day in 2011, there have been 4,452 members of our armed forces who have lost their lives in Iraq, including 194 from the State of Florida. In addition, another 1,572 have died in Afghanistan, including 101 from Florida. Each loss represents a personal family tragedy.
Freeman joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2008, and had been in Afghanistan just three weeks, when his life was cut short at the young age of 25. Although his own mother had passed away several years ago, he left behind a wife, a young daughter, and a recently born son he never got to see.
|Patriot Guard Riders|
Like other members of the armed forces who have lost their lives and once called Florida’s Gulf Coast home, Lance Corporal Freeman’s body was returned to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa on an Angel Flight. On May 4, 2011, in a procession which has become all too familiar along Tampa’s scenic Bayshore Boulevard, the hearse carrying Freeman was escorted by members of his immediate family, friends, representatives of the military, deputies of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and Patriot Guard Riders. This traditional route along Bayshore is always lined with many patriotic citizens, who wish to pay their respects to these fallen heroes, and such was indeed the case for Lance Corporal Freeman.It is my hope, on this special day we’ve set aside to honor our mothers, that we can look ahead to a Mother’s Day in the not too distant future, and see a Bayshore Boulevard where the only procession visible, is the procession of joggers running along the water’s edge.