When they called her name, she could not move. Sgt. Leana Nishimura intended to walk up proudly, shake the dignitaries' hands and accept their honors for her service in Iraq — a special coin, a lapel pin, a glass-encased U.S. flag.
But her son clung to her leg. He cried and held tight, she recalled. And so Nishimura stayed where she was, and the ceremony last summer went on without her. T.J. was 9, her oldest child, and although eight months had passed since she had returned from the war zone, he was still upset by anything that reminded him of her deployment.
He remembered the long separation. The faraway move to live with his grandmother. The months that went by without his mother's kisses or hugs, without her scrutiny of homework, her teasing humor, her familiar bedtime songs.