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I am proud to be the widow of Cpl Jonathan Daniel Porto, USMC

I am proud to be the widow of Cpl Jonathan Daniel Porto, USMC

It has been over 6 years since that fateful day.

Memorial Day. What does it mean to me?

It means a time to reflect on my husband’s service and sacrifice. A time to reflect on the sacrifices of thousands of families like my own.

I met Jonny Porto in 2008 shortly after I graduated college. He was stationed on the Army post on which I worked and we met one summer weekend night at the bowling alley.

I was immediately struck by his charisma, sincerity, and devilishly handsome good looks. I spent the evening with him and his friends, and although I had just met them all, they made me feel like we’ve been friends forever. At the end of the night, Jonny asked me if he could kiss me. I figured, “Sure, why not?” Little did I know that would be the kiss that would change my life.

Many thought it was sudden when Jonathan proposed to me in November, but we knew it was right. We married on May 2, 2009, only 9 months after meeting. It was a true whirl-wind romance.

Jonathan and Rachel Porto Wedding Photo (2)

[(left to right) his sister Stephanie, his mom Rachel, his sister Emilie, us, and his brother Ben]

[Night after our wedding, with (left to right) his sister Stephanie, his mom Rachel, his sister Emilie, us, and his brother Ben]

On our honeymoon, we found out our family would already be growing. We settled into our new home in North Carolina outside of Camp Lejeune where Jonny was stationed. He was with an infantry unit, 1st Battalion 6th Marines, and I was setting up a new life far from my home state of Maryland and adjusting to Marine Corps life.

In December 2009, Jonathan’s unit received word they would be the first in a new surge of troops to Afghanistan. He left on December 8, 2009.

Jonathan and Rachel Porto Pregnant

On January 15, 2010, our daughter Ariana was born. I was fortunate to receive a call from him while I was in labor and because of that, he was present with me when his daughter graced this earth. We had a few months to go until he would be home with us and physically get to meet her.

Except, that day never came.

On March 15, 2010, two uniformed men rang my doorbell before dawn. A Navy Chaplain and a Marine Staff NCO from 6th Marine Regiment. Their words forever changed our lives as they informed me Jonathan had been killed the day prior.

[Memorial to Jonathan Porto, Marjah Afghanistan]

[Memorial to Jonathan Porto, Marjah Afghanistan]

It has been over 6 years since that fateful day. Over 6 years of figuring out life without him by my side. Still, every day I think of him, every day I miss him.

Memorial Day to me and our family is the day the rest of the nation gets a brief glimpse of our last 6 years. It is a day designed to reflect and feel gratitude for the men and women who have given up everything in the name of this nation. My husband, like all the others who have given their lives in war, had a story: He had a family, he had hopes and dreams and plans, he had a past and memories, he had his entire life ahead of him. Yet he chose to lay down all of that in the name of American Freedom.

Many people think of summer when they think of Memorial Day. Sure, I think of summer, too. I enjoy the barbecues and the long weekend, but I also think of the summer night I met the man who would become my husband. I think of all of my friends who have also had to say goodbye to their loves far too soon. I think of the true cost of war and the impact it has on all of us: those of us left behind, those of us fighting, those of us who might not feel an impact at all – it is there, and Memorial Day is the day to give thanks and remember all of those lives, futures, stories taken far too soon.

I am proud to be the widow of Cpl Jonathan Daniel Porto, USMC February 26, 1984 – March 14, 2010.

[Rachel Porto with daughter at Jonathan Porto Grave]

[Rachel Porto with daughter at Jonathan Porto Grave]

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WAJ Note: I am grateful to Rachel for sharing her memories with us. Her 2010 post at her own website, I Will Always Be a Marine Wife and at The Washington Post, Promises a Marine widow cannot bear to hear, are well worth reading.

Jon’s uncle Frank is a Legal Insurrection reader with whom I have communicated over the years. Jon’s mother, Rachel Bernaby, emailed me in response to my request for an update:

Hi, I’m not sure what I can update. I still feel I am living in a daze where Jon is concerned, it’s surreal. I keep tears at bay but they are at the surface. The family just misses him. Memorial Day is a sad day for too many families, but we do honor Jon and all those who gave their lives for our freedom.Thank you for remembering.

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Comments

Thanks for sharing!

God bless! S/F

Guarding the streets of Heaven.

This is an amazing tribute, Rachel. I was crying as I read it . . .with empathy, sympathy for your (and our country’s) loss, and pride. You and your beloved husband do America proud. Thank you.

Conservative Beaner | May 29, 2016 at 10:42 pm

May God watch over you and your family.

CloseTheFed | May 29, 2016 at 11:54 pm

Memorial Day should be removed as a Monday holiday which in effect begins summer. It means most people are celebrating the end of winter ,the end of school, and the beginning of summer.

Our war dead deserve their own day, and our citizens deserve not to have to feel guilt after a long winter, a long school year, and the beginning of the summer.

we need to change Memorial Day. It needs to be a Wednesday, preferably in April or May, while school is still in session and before the summer vacation season begins in earnest.

Memorial Day is and must ever be both a reminder of the price we pay for freedom and that this cost is not borne evenly, and a celebration of the spirit of sacrifice for others, without which this nation would never have been born, nor long survived.

Those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who lost them for our defense will never be forgotten.

Greenish-baby-poop | May 30, 2016 at 8:24 am

Leave memorial day where it is. All this mamby-pamby PC BS about summer and celebrating would have us change every holiday. Would you have us pick a dreary unhappy day to honor our vets? “Oh no, nobody should be happy on memorial day” is a load of crap. I’m happy on my dead parents birthdays and death days because I celebrate their lives. If we bend to political correctness we will be a socialist pile of spineless weeping pansies, the EXACT OPPOSITE of the fine men and women that fought and died for us.

God bless you, Semper Fi.

Thanks so much for sharing. My second oldest was a Marine and he lost several friends. I have been fortunate to get to know those friends’ parents and have found them to be exceptionally strong people. The death of a loved one is quite a burden to bear, just know that there are many who are willing to share your part.

Thank you for letting us get to know your Jonny even a little.
He and all of them will never be forgotten.

LukeHandCool | May 30, 2016 at 3:29 pm

What a wonderful tribute! In your daughter, Ariana, your husband lives on.

I am having my son and daughters read this and Mrs. Horton’s post as well.

I’m so sorry that people like you have to bear the brunt of the cost of freedom. I hope America and Americans can prove themselves worthy of the sacrifice of your husband and so many of his comrades.

I want to repeat what I just wrote as a comment to Mrs. Horton’s post:

Thanks to Professor Jacobson for making these important posts possible … and for not being an all-too-commonplace American military denigrating university professor.

I would love to see a book compiled of posts like yours and Mrs. Horton’s. A few years ago I came across a book of remembrances of the experiences of the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, by the Punahou Class of 1952. In it, 84 students of that graduating class tell of their personal experiences of the day, 11 years before their 1952 graduation, that changed the world and their world. At that time they were seven- and eight-year-old primary students at K-12 Punahou. It’s fascinating.

A book compilation of posts like yours and Mrs. Horton’s should be distributed to the selfish, self-centered undergraduate protesters protesting imagined hardships at their university campuses these last couple of years.

God Bless you and your husband.

May God bless you and your daughter Rachel Porto. Semper Fidelis, MLJ, USMC Ret.

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