The widow of Lance Cpl. Norman W. Anderson III told about 400 mourners at his funeral service last night that she was not bitter about how he died in Iraq -- less than three months after their wedding.
"His job being a Marine had a part of his heart I would never have," Tori Anderson said, standing beside her husband's flag-draped casket. They had many talks, she said, and he would often tell her, "They need me more over there than you need me over here."
Corporal Anderson, 21, of Parkton, was killed Oct. 19 when a suicide car bomb detonated near him as he carried out a military mission in Karabilah. Assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., he had been in Iraq for about a month, according to the Department of Defense.
He is to be buried at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Last night's service was held at a funeral home in northern Baltimore County, less than a mile from Hereford High School, where Corporal Anderson starred as a running back on the football team. The school is retiring his No. 33 jersey and has started a scholarship fund in his name.
The son of a retired Army Ranger, Corporal Anderson had wanted to serve in the military since early childhood, his family said last night.
"This was what Norman wanted to do," his mother, Robyn Anderson, told the gathering.
She described her son as a devoted Marine who would have been both "mortified and honored" by last night's service.
So many people showed up at the Henry W. Jenkins & Sons funeral home that some mourners stood in side rooms and the lobby, listening to the service through speakers.
The crowd in the lobby included a woman holding a wallet-size photo of Corporal Anderson, and a man with reddened eyes standing quietly in military dress blues with a white hat in his hand.
Robyn Anderson said she received a call Sunday from a woman whose grandson died while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan.
"The sacrifice of a Marine is the highest human action," she said, quoting from a letter she received from neighbors. She also quoted from a card she wrote to her son: "I remember your first steps and your bright eyes were fixed on me."
Corporal Anderson graduated from Hereford in 2002 and enlisted in the Marines that year.
He joined his division as a rifleman in June 2003, and was deployed to Afghanistan. When he returned in November, "You could really see a difference in him," said his father, Norman Anderson Jr., adding that his son became much more concerned about his family's well-being.
"As a father, you wonder, 'What kind of father is he going to be?'" he said.
Pointing out that his son was in charge of some of his fellow Marines and recognized for leadership during ambushes in Afghanistan, he said, "He proved to me what kind of father he was."
Corporal Anderson and his wife, the former Tori Worthing, had been high school sweethearts. They married in August near Hunt Valley and honeymooned in Baltimore.
"Norman is the reason I got up every morning," she said, and added that she spoke to Anderson the day before he died.
"He told me he loved me and his family and that he was proud of me," she said.