Tinley Park Marine ‘nearing the finish line’
By Jason Freeman firstname.lastname@example.org August 5, 2012 7:36PM
Marine Cpl. Ed Spiewak is welcomed home at VFW Post 2791 in Tinley Park Sunday, August 5, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 7, 2012 6:09AM
Kathy Spiewak vividly remembers the day four years ago when her son requested a very special favor of her — and made a promise she only could pray he’d keep.
Ed Spiewak, then still a senior at Tinley Park High School, begged his mother to sign the forms required for him to enlist in the military.
“I was devastated,” Kathy Spiewak said. “When he came to me when he was 17 and asked me to sign for him, it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I was terrified. He kept telling me, ‘I promise you I’ll come back,’ and I said, ‘There are no guarantees.’ We all know there are no guarantees.”
Ed kept his promise on Sunday when he, now a corporal in the Marines, returned safely from a seven-month deployment in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Ed was greeted with a surprise homecoming celebration at Tinley Park Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2791 complete with family, friends and his own personal escort from his parents’ Tinley Park home to the VFW courtesy of the American Veterans Motorcycle Riders Association.
Ed, who arrived with his mother in a Chevrolet Camaro near the front of the escort, was moved to tears during the ceremony and had little to say except to thank the crowd for coming.
“I just love this town and everyone in it,” he said.
After the ceremony, the escort led Ed and his family back home, where he will stay for the next two weeks before returning to duty.
“This maybe seems like it’s for Ed, but it’s really for all of the service people,” Ed’s father, also named Ed Spiewak, said. “We’re celebrating those that returned and those that sacrificed for us.”
Kathy said that Ed, who plans to become a police officer after completing his tour of duty, chose the Marines because of the challenge it provided.
“He wanted to fight for his country,” she said. “He was not a good student, and he had no direction. He felt (serving in the military) would give him what he needed, and he picked the Marines because they were the toughest branch and he wanted the best.”
Kathy said the most important thing was that her son finally made good on his promise to return.
“For me, this is all about him coming home,” she said. “It’s about celebrating the fact that he’s home, he’s in one piece, he came home alive. There’s always that chance, and I feel it’s really worth celebrating that he made it back.”
Ed has another year left on his military contract but is in the process of applying for an early release, Kathy said.
“It’s been very hard, but we’re nearing the finish line,” she said.