On a cold March night in 2007, Jeff Brodeur got the phone call that changed his life. His son, Army Pvt. Vincent Mannion-Brodeur, 19, had been searching a structure near Tikrit, Iraq, when a mortar-shell booby trap exploded. His sergeant was killed instantly and Mannion-Brodeur suffered a devastating head injury as well as deep shrapnel wounds to his arm and torso. Jeff and his wife, Maura, sitting stunned in their Cape Cod, Mass., home, were told that their son might not live.
As the holidays draw near, volunteers with a heart for military veterans are gearing up for a special salute — National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 13.
In World War II, families learned of a loved one killed in action by telegram. My husband's grandfather, with two military sons, recalled watching the telegram delivery man ride his bike down the street and praying that he would not stop at his door. Today a uniformed service member delivers the notification in person. Since 2001, the families of almost 7,000 men and women have opened their front doors to that devastating news.
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