The Boy Behind an Iconic Photo

Photo of Christian Golczynski at his dad's funeral has become a symbol of war.

ByABC News via logo
May 4, 2007, 1:47 PM

May 4, 2007 — -- Heather Golczynski and her 8-year-old son Christian hold tightly to the memory of Marine Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski.

On March 27, just a few weeks before Marc Golczynski was to return home from his second tour in Iraq -- one he volunteered for -- he was shot on patrol and killed by enemy fire in al-Aanbar province.

During a moment at the burial, Christian stepped forward to receive the flag for his father. The expression of grief on his young face was captured in a photo and became a powerful symbol for soldiers, their families and anyone who sees it.

When asked about his dad by ABC News' Chris Cuomo, Christian said, "He was a hero. He helped our country."

People around the country saw different messages in the photo.

"I think there are a lot of views on the war and I think that different views portray different feelings in the picture," Heather said. "To me, I see the strength. I see the courage."

Many people have wanted to talk to Christian about the photo. He said that they wanted to say, "Sorry."

"Four years into this war people sometimes forget that there are still families in this country that have soldiers overseas," Heather said.

Just days before he left for his second tour, Marc sent a letter to his family that would be his epitaph.

"Due to our deep desire to finish the job we started, we fight and sometimes die so that our families don't have to. Stand beside us because we would do it for you. Because it is our unity that's enabled us to prosper the nation," Marc wrote.

"Marc believed very much what he was doing was right," Heather said.

Since Marc's death, letters of support and gifts have poured in for the family.

But for all that his father may now represent to others, to Christian, Dad is the man who spent time with him and played, and who was teaching him about being a soldier.

"He helped our country and tried to stop terrorists," Christian said.

Marc Golczynski's commitment to his country has left his son fatherless. But that son still dreams of growing up one day and becoming a Marine.