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Army mother fortified by strength of prayer

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Close bond: Margaret DiGiacomo and her son, Jason (Photograph supplied)

It was the most heart-wrenching news Margaret DiGiacomo had ever received.

Her son Jason, a US Army solider on duty in Iraq, was missing.

Prayer helped her through that terrible period 13 years ago. Her faith in God is just as strong today.

“It was a very scary time because all we could do was wait for a response,” the assistant principal at Mount Saint Agnes Academy said.

“At that time when he enlisted, my son had just turned 22 and I never imagined he would be sent to Iraq so soon after finishing his basic training in Oklahoma.

“As a mom, you immediately become worried and scared and just hope nothing will happen to your child.

“Then all of a sudden we got the call one Sunday morning that the helicopter Jason’s unit was supposed to be on had crashed.

“It was filled with soldiers who had been given leave for R&R who were going back to visit their homes and families for two weeks. For several days they didn’t know if Jason was on it or not when it went down. That’s where faith kicked in. I was just praying and came to work and prayed some more.”

Mrs DiGiacomo’s husband received the call from the US Army. He didn’t tell his wife about it until after Sunday mass.

“As soon as I heard I called my cousin and they came over to be with us,” she said. “It was just a time where we cried and talked. We didn’t know what was happening.”

The experience taught her how important it was to not lose faith in God.

“Prayer is always important, but you definitely become more aware of prayer when you’re going through a difficult time,” she said. “I would wake up in the middle of the night and just state Our Father or Hail Mary and when I got to school, staff members prayed with me in our morning meeting.

“You start to feel a sense of calm. It’s hard to explain, but when you have faith it allows you to carry on.”

She received word that her son was all right that Wednesday.

“You breathe a sigh of relief, but you think about all the other mothers, fathers, wives and children who weren’t so fortunate and lost their loved ones on that helicopter,” she said.

“That’s why at this time of year, around Remembrance Day, we encourage the community to keep our men and women in service industries in their thoughts and prayers. When you see someone who has served Bermuda, we urge people to thank them.

“So often they are not thanked and their contribution seems to go unnoticed, but it’s important to recognise all the people who have gone off to war and even those who stayed behind and served in some other capacity for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

MSA marks Remembrance Day with a special prayer service each year. Members of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service and the Bermuda Police Service have attended as honoured guests for the past four years.

“These are people who have dedicated their careers to being in service to us and we want to thank them for what they do for our island,” Mrs DiGiacomo said. “These are people who go above and beyond to give of themselves.”

Such events help students understand the meaning behind the holiday, said Laura Lyons, MSA’s director of development.

“It’s one of the things our school principal Sue Moench thinks is relevant to the students seeing they don’t necessarily know anyone who has served in an actual war.

“By inviting those members of the community who are serving in some capacity it gives our young people a better understanding of who we are praying for and allows them to better understand the historical significance of Remembrance Day as well.”