Archive for Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Family embraces baby Freedom

Father returns home from Iraq in time for birth of eighth child

Stacy Cecil, left, gave birth April 27 to a baby girl, Freedom Rayne, three weeks prematurely after her husband, Travis, returned home from duty with the Army Reserve in Iraq. Travis, who was granted emergency leave to be with his wife and family living in Lawrence, says her name honors Americans in the armed forces. The Cecil siblings include, Catherine, 5, (in purple) her twin sister, Brianna (in yellow), Gwendolyn, 2, (seated with her father) and her twin brother, Braeden.

Stacy Cecil, left, gave birth April 27 to a baby girl, Freedom Rayne, three weeks prematurely after her husband, Travis, returned home from duty with the Army Reserve in Iraq. Travis, who was granted emergency leave to be with his wife and family living in Lawrence, says her name honors Americans in the armed forces. The Cecil siblings include, Catherine, 5, (in purple) her twin sister, Brianna (in yellow), Gwendolyn, 2, (seated with her father) and her twin brother, Braeden.

May 6, 2008


Freedom Rayne

Travis and Stacy Cecil welcomed their eighth child, a girl named Freedom, on April 27. Travis, a specialist in the Army reserve, was recalled from Iraq on emergency leave. Enlarge video

Soldier makes it back for daughter's birth

It's a moment he wouldn't miss: a Lawrence father serving in Iraq made it home just in time to witness the birth of his daughter. Enlarge video

Eight is enough.

It's enough children for Travis and Stacy Cecil. And, for Travis, eight months was long enough - maybe too long - to be in Iraq while his wife was pregnant.

So when the Army reservist received word that he was being granted emergency leave from his deployment in the Anbar province to join Stacy for the birth of their daughter, Travis couldn't get home fast enough.

"The whole time you're like, 'Let's go, let's go, let's refuel and let's go because I've got somewhere to be, I've got family to go to,'" said Travis, 31.

He returned to the United States on April 15, an agonizing week after he heard he would be coming home. Three weeks later, on April 27, Stacy, 41, gave birth to a daughter they named Freedom Rayne. She was born three weeks premature and is wrapped in a pink blanket because she has trouble retaining body heat.

Freedom, you see, is a generations-long theme for the Cecil family - Navy, Army, parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts. Travis counts the generations on his fingers. And rain, well, it just rained all the time (they changed the spelling, however).

After Stacy visited her husband at Fort Bragg, N.C., prior to his deployment to Iraq in September, it rained in Lawrence. It rained as Travis prepared to leave for the Middle East. When he came home for the first time, it rained, and again when he left. It even rained when they drove to the hospital April 27.

"Rain has been a big thing," Travis said. The name "just sort of fit. We knew of one child named Freedom, and we liked the name."

Home again

Things are normal for now. At least as normal as they can be with five children under age 6 running around. The Cecils keep busy with their six children who live with them, including two sets of twins: Brianna and Catherine, 5, Gwendolyn and Braeden, 2, and, of course, the newest addition to the family, Freedom. Stacy has one son, Cody, 15, from a previous marriage. Daughters Steffany, 21, and Tamara, 23, round out the family.

But normal for the Cecils is a comparative term. When you enter their home, your eyes are immediately drawn to a large, pink bassinet that sits adjacent to the kitchen. And then there's the strange dichotomy that populates the floor: Toys, loads of toys - trucks, books, dolls - that sit next to Travis' Army gear. His patterned boonie cap. An olive-drab rucksack. His camouflage backpack, fresh from duty in Iraq.

A specialist in the Army Reserve, Travis is part of a psychological operations unit, serving in the western Anbar province, which includes the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. There will be a time to talk about the war, he says, but not now. He's just glad to be home.

A father's 'privilege'

The Cecils weren't even positive Travis would receive emergency leave. But, with his track record, there was no way he would miss Freedom's birth.

"I've had the privilege of being there for all of them, and it really scared me that I might not be here for Freedom," he said. He looks at Stacy. "I'm sorry, honey."

It's OK, she says.

It wasn't easy to leave Iraq, he says. He's got another family there.

"Even though this family's more important in the long run, there's just a bit of a tear, because you're over there, doing a job. Now you won't be able to finish that job with who you were with. But you really need to get back (home), you really want to come back," he said.

But work is work, and family is family.

Stacy says the months when Travis was away were hard. But she learned from his first deployment, part of the initial push into Iraq, not to watch the news.

"That was my downfall the first time. I watched 24/7," she said. "They don't tell you who got hurt.

"And even though no news is good news, that doesn't help either."

Hard questions

Caring for her brood posed problems Stacy hadn't considered.

"It never crossed my mind that one of my 5-year-olds would come up and ask repeatedly, 'Is my daddy is going to die,'" she said. She just told her daughter that daddy's soldiers would take care of him.

They did, and when Travis came home for leave in December he surprised Brianna and Catherine at their school. They "tackled" him after they realized that the man in full uniform was Daddy. It was a far cry from 2003, when he returned from Iraq and the girls, only a year old, were "terrified of him."

"It was better this time than it was the first time, because the kids actually knew who he was when he came back, and throughout the whole experience when he was gone," Stacy said.

And, with any luck, Freedom will always have her father at home. Travis, whose second enlistment ends in 2010, says he probably won't re-enlist. He will return to Fort Bragg in a few days, where he will spend the rest of his deployment. Iraq, for now, is out of the picture.

'Done enough'

"It's getting to a point where it's time for Dad to put away the adventures. He's done his part," Travis said. Then looking at his wife and children, he says, "But I worry about you something fierce. Besides, I think our family has done enough."

As Stacy finishes school in medical office administration, Travis is looking to a future in architectural drafting.

"It's one more reason to go back to school and get a good job," he said. "It's one more reason why I personally probably will not be re-enlisting."

Travis looks at his baby girl.

"She's beautiful, and I'm glad to have her, and I love holding her and I swear she smiles," admitting that he knows babies aren't supposed to smile.

But just then, Freedom smiles.


mom_of_three 10 years, 1 month ago

obviously, you didn't read the article very well. She has three from previously relationships

alm77 10 years, 1 month ago

What a beautiful family!! Thank you Mr. Cecil for your sacrifice!!

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 1 month ago

Let's see...he's an E-4...she's apparently going to tech school...who's paying to raise these eight kids? Hmm....

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 1 month ago

Finding_UranusThose high school boys who will turn little Free's name into something dirty, will probably not be thinking about whether they are liberal or conservative. Like all teenage boys they will be thinking (or, really not thinking) about their hormonal urges, not about politics. Many of them will even be good god fearing conservatives. I've taught high school. I know what they do with different names, and political and religous persuasions won't matter.Again, really cute baby. Makes me want to go goo, goo, gaa. But that's the grandma in me. I love to spoil them then give them back to their mom.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 1 month ago

PS I have 5 kids does that put me in the welfare catagory??

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 1 month ago

"Ain't he a cute kid? No he ain't. He's just another burden on the welfare state."---The Specials.

I_Love_My_Family 10 years, 1 month ago

First off....i would like to say something to all the NEGATIVITY in here......anyone who has something hateful to say about a man and his family who is fighting for you.....i hope you know that you are not proud to be an proud of this soilder and his family...they made more sacrfices...than you can sit here and judge him and his family.....but the love they have for our country is more than any of you have. Im glad you take so lightly that he is fighting for your right to speak

kugrad 10 years, 1 month ago

I'm happy for the family, but that cheezy name has just got to go. Hopefully the kid will be known as Rainy or something. Too bad the LJW doesn't have the balls to report how independent contractors and other countries torture people so that Bush can say "The USA does not torture." Instead we get the fluff stories of the war and no real coverage of the travesty that is the Iraq war.

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 1 month ago

Jesus, enough with the procreating already. Get a hobby. Volunteer your time.

alm77 10 years, 1 month ago

opin, I was going to say that, but couldn't articulate it all that well. I wholeheartedly agree.

Dixie Jones 10 years, 1 month ago

does ljw not have anyother news,,, stupid........lets see something about thoes men and women who come home injured, dealing with where they just came from , the wonderful jobs they are doing over there for all of us..... who cares if he had his EIGHTH child.... and is only 31 lets put some REAL stories in the paper ppl

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

Cecil sacrifices, and likely could earn more money out of uniform...the best some of you can do is carp about the size of his family. used to be in this country that people had four to seven sibs, frequently!Jesus, enough with the procreating already. Get a hobby. Volunteer your time.that's the point, you liberals commit abortion, keep the repro rates down, fine fine! the rest of us and those including who have conservative values, well we're procreating! the scares of :anthropogenic global warming is just hysteria not backed by real science only faith like a religion and models that fail to account for precipitation; those who are scared of "overpopulation," but the u.s. has about the lowest population density of developing world. thanks for your services mr. cecil. congrats to the ljworld, they didn't just focus on an officer, but one of the grunts that gets things done. God bless you and your wife "go forth and multiply."

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 1 month ago

Cute baby, but please call her by her middle name. When she gets into high school, slimy high school boys will have a field day with "Free".

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 1 month ago

less and less "feel-good" with damn near every post...

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 1 month ago

opin has hit the nail on the head. It would be interesting to see where all that money goes. It sure is getting to the foot soldiers.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 1 month ago

Nope, that's my point. I'm pretty sure that I'm taking care of his family. Unless you know some trick about feeding 9 people on $23K a year.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

Are you serious? This man sacrificed his life for "our" country and ONLY get's paid 23,000/year, Now that should be the real problem here, not how manychildren he has, I'll gladly pay for these!--opininated [you forgot an 'o'?] yes, I agree, it is a sc scandal that military personnel are paid so low. some of the benefits are pretty good but the basic pay needs to be increased. genious, you're making a big assumption! we don't know how they are covering the needs of eight kids. your assuming they tap into the welfare system. you are only assuming that. we don't know what he did when not on active duty, he is after all in the reserve. shame on you genious...a rather ironic screen name today. the article portrays two very good people who have eight kids. many of you, the real problem is that you've picked up the liberal prejudice against large families. this is a prejudice and a bad one. there are positives for kids raised in large families. one: they often learn better than singleton's how to work as a team, and the value of doing good work. Mr. and mrs. cecil, most of us americans are very grateful for your sacrifice. and we honor you for it. oh, to complete my comment to Opininated: service personnel have been underpaid I think for at least 20 years.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 1 month ago

the liberal prejudice against large families.Huh? It's not the liberals who are always saying you shouldn't have children if you can't afford them. I was ignoring this part of this thread, because it had nothing to do with the article, but that's just being hypocritical. I will definitely remember this remark next time I hear you conservatives complain about people who have kids they can't afford. To the family if you read this. You have some nice looking kids, and you seem to be a loving family. Even if you had to get food stamps when you were called up (which no one here knows one way or another), from the little I know about you, you sound like good parents, so don't let anyone on this forum make you feel ashamed. Some people should have lots of children and others shouldn't have any.

Scott Drummond 10 years, 1 month ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Scott Drummond 10 years, 1 month ago

Bearded:An earlier comment was made about how allegedly underpaid the military is. The flippant comment I made was intended more to point out that Army personnel are generally low-skilled folks who's marketable talents are pretty marginal, and thus are low paid for a reason. Most are hired to carry a weapon. Not much need for that in civilian society (not yet anyway.) I suppose in this day of uncritical hosannas for all things military I should have known better. I've got news for you, though. Just because someone joins the military or does a tour of duty does not mean that they are entitled to the sort of uncritical "hero" blather that is so pervasive these days. In my experience the vast, vast majority are decidedly unnoteworthy and unheroic (a term that should be reserved for those who truly are.) Too bad that point of view is so in the so-called home of the free, etc. The rest of my comment was intended to express my negative opinion of such a fluffy, non news story taking up space when real news such as the continuing criminal activities of this Administration and the local Scott Bloch connection remain curiously unreported. But, I guess the editors have their priorities & certainly one does not look to this paper for balanced news presentation.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 1 month ago

so... why doesn't this feel-good story make everybody feel good?

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 1 month ago

now did a lot of people miss the part about 3 of the children are from a previous marriage and not his? Two sets of twins wow my 23 year old has twins and no way would I wish 2 sets of double trouble on anyone:)

workinghard 10 years, 1 month ago

I don't know if she still works there, but there was a teller at Bank of America named Amerika (I believe that is how it was spelled)

blahblahblah 10 years, 1 month ago

I think f_u found what he was looking for, his head seems to be up there.

snowWI 10 years, 1 month ago

bearded_gnome,I never mentioned anything regarding ethanol. I don't support the widespread corn based ethanol because of the negative net energy ratio involved. Have you ever stopped to think that most of our fertilizers come from oil derived products? With peak oil coming upon us shortly it will be ever more expensive to feed a growing population. It is a lot more complicated than your overly optimistic viewpoint would entail. Global warming is a reality, but we do not know how much total influence man has had. I support technologies to reduce CO2 emissions, and with a change in direction in D.C. I believe those technologies will gain greater support. All three presidential candidates will likely support CO2 regulations in one form or another.

Confrontation 10 years, 1 month ago

At least he's taking care of his family. Freedom will be taken care of and her daddy has a job. I'm more concerned about Porsche, Lexus, Mylissya, Crystynae, Larendachelle, and any other child who is being cared/paid for by everyone other than his/her parents. Thanks to this soldier for doing all of his jobs!

opininated 10 years, 1 month ago

Are you serious? This man sacrificed his life for "our" country and ONLY get's paid 23,000/year, Now that should be the real problem here, not how many children he has, I'll gladly pay for these!

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 1 month ago

Maybe they have a rich, liberal uncle who is keeping the teeming masses clothed and fed.A lawyer maybe? A doctor possibly? An entrepreneur possibly? A liberal certainly.

geniusmannumber1 10 years, 1 month ago

Very well, Mr. Gnome. Then I don't want to hear you or anyone else espousing "conservative values" (whatever that means) complain about abusing the welfare system ever again. Have as many kids as you want; I just don't want to pay for them.

IfYouKnowMeYouKnowMe 10 years, 1 month ago

Stacy and Travis, Thank you for everything that you do. You are amazing people. I love you. I pray each day that you two and your blessed 8 children are safe. Travis...Thank you for your service overseas. You are fighting for 4 different Freedoms, your's, mine, the ignorant people of the country, and your new baby. Stacy...Thank you for being a great friend and finding time to talk to me and get together when you get a chance. I couldn't ask for a better person in the world to know. You are a great mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, grandchild, and friend. May the grace of God be with you and your family everyday. I know the Cecils personally and can honestly say that they are not on welfare. It isn't easy to be poor, it is a skill that you have to learn. But they aren't poor. They do the same things we do to get things taken care of, they just have a few more personalities to keep track of. If you think about what you go through on a daily basis with one or two children is draining, contemplate what they go through. I am a single parent, not on welfare either, and I work 2 jobs to be able to provide for my children. But what you inconsiderate people are not taking into account is that all 8 children do not live in the house. Two of them live out of the home raising their own families as well as help out their mother as much as they can. And for those of you saying that he should get a vasectomy, come on people, do you really think that they planned on having 2 sets of twins back to back? No they didn't, they crossed that bridge when they came to it, like you and I would have, but they love each of their children the same as the next. Their children get along the same as other siblings do, maybe better. They are smart, funny, beautiful, handsome, and above all else, loving to one another. When I was a child, I only had a brother and sister. I hated playing and doing the things with them, because you get tired of looking at the same faces and personalities. There is an abundance of different personalities in their family. I love going to visit, just to be able to see what new things the older children have taught to the younger ones. And one phrase you are not likely to hear in their house from any of the children is "I'm bored!". There is enough in that house to keep them all, games, learning utensils, books, videos, and most of all their love for one another.And for the ignorant people reading my posting...Shame on you. You are too narrow minded and cold hearted to have even opened up this story to read and watch the videos. Karma is mean and she'll be back around to bite you,

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

dorothyR,apparently you are having reading comprehension issues. try rereading my posts. I did say we need to pay these soldiers more. second, I clearly stated that it was a very bad assumption to make out that automatically this couple is on welfare and that the above stonehearted posters say they're paying for this new little one! finally, I made the point that he is in the reserve and no word what he did, or indication thereby of their finances. I know yoyu've said you work as a teacher, but maybe you need some practice in basic reading comprehension before you go off on a partisan rant. ***scot#### above, what a shred of human debris. you are not worthy of the liberty and freedoms defended by these "gun toters!" " you exemplify the far left fringe'sreal hatred for the military and the personnel in uniform. have you been one of those yelling "babykiller" at returning iraq vets? are you like the poster Merrill on here who calls those who blow up our troops in iraq "patriots" and lauds them. you guilty of spitting on our service personnel? scott#### you simply should leave, go to cuba if you want a leftist workers' paradise [smirk]. shame on you!

nespe38 10 years, 1 month ago

Read all the comments and it doesn't shock me to see so much animosity displayed but it does disturb me that others can take it out on a family who has lots of hurdles ahead of them, raising a family of eight these days will take a lot of tenacity and endurance. Our duties as human beings and Americans is to support one another with our prayers not to bad mouth them and make their life harder than what it is already. Let freedom reign in our country and love reign in our hearts. God Bless you Travis and Stacey and your little ones and may you be successful in all you do as you raise that beautiful family.

snowWI 10 years, 1 month ago

"the rest of us and those including who have conservative values, well we're procreating! the scares of :anthropogenic global warming is just hysteria not backed by real science only faith like a religion and models that fail to account for precipitation; those who are scared of "overpopulation," but the u.s. has about the lowest population density of developing world."Kansas needs to grow food for the rest of the world, and not increase much at all in population. New land is NEVER created, but population always grows. The U.S. is also one of the fastest growing developed countries. Oh, I also ENJOY low population density. I like the feeling of being able to enjoy rural "frontier" counties that have fewer than 6 people per square mile, and see the stars at night with no light pollution.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

snowwi,your post betrays basic liberal ignorance. if our government stopped paying farmers not to grow things and more land was bought on line, we could raise a tremendous increase in crops, feeding the world more. snowwi, you know one major cause for world hunger and food price increases is our ethanol subsidies. resources that could grow food for people is growing corn to burn incars! ignorant short-sighted foolish. and, some of you greeniewheenies push generates more CO2 than gas does too. but as stated above anthropogenic global warming is a myth anyway. ***shortly, I will be posting a note on here for another user who couldn't quite negotiate the ljworld's system. so, next, I am posting for her:Yellowrose.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

As for the Journal World's publishing fluff instead of real stories comments, I'm glad to read a happy story for a change. My husband turns on the newswhen he gets up every morning and it is on all day, 7 days a week. It drives me nuts! I hate the news and purposely avoid it because of his obsessionwith it.Congratulations to the Cecils. This is a beautiful, sweet family story and I'm happy for them. Don't begrudge them their good fortune. Obviously, this family has served our country well for several generations. It is the service and sacrificeof people like the Cecils that has given and continues to give us the freedom to publicly express our disagreement that some of you use to criticizethem with. If you critical ones were being held at gunpoint or endangered in some other way, if Travis Cecil saved your lives, even then, you would notwish him well. Why? Because you can't see past your need to be right about everything. The "Get a vasectomy" comment is cruel and insensitive. "Dude,"if you must be an evangelist for vasectomy, get one yourself. Stay out of their bedroom business and mind your own. You want the Cecils to end theirfertility so that you, whoever you are, don't have to take care of any more of his kids. Whoever you are, drive safely, be careful crossing streets andin everything you ever do in life because, I don't want to have to pay your medical bills, or take care of you if you are injured. Do you see how inhumanethis kind of attitude is? Selfish ones, get hearts and an attitude of gratitude. At least be willing to wish the Cecil's the happiness they deserve,whether you feel it or not. Act as if and the feelings will follow.It was fine for this man to put his life on the line so that we can continue and others might be able to enjoy the freedom that we Americans take forgranted. He came home to ridicule when everyone should be rejoicing with him and his family. I am sure glad that you aren't God. It seemsquite evident that He has chosen to bless Travis Cecil with several gifts.1. He was blessed with the favor of his superiors who granted him leave to come home for the birth of Freedom Rayne.2. A safe journey home was the second blessing or gift.3. Freedom was born healthy as far as we know,4. His wife, Stacy is doing well with no complications surrounding delivery, as far as we know.5. Travis does not have to return to Iraq and can finish his deployment stateside.The Lord is blessing them and I say a hearty "Amen" to that and I bless them with my prayers and best wishes for a long and joyful Jesus filled life. Ilove the spelling of "Rayne." It rained a lot as she was being created and God has already rained down several blessings in bringing this little girlinto the world. May He continue to do so throughout her life. Her name fits her perfectly and is a perfect way to bring closure to her family's militarylife.

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

the above was written by "yellowrose," and I posted it to help. McCain isn't very conservative and he has apparently bought into the anthropogenic global warming mythology/religion. most of us, he was not our first or second choice, he was chosen by independents and democrats crossing over in fla and nh. so, now, we're rturning the favor through Rush limbaugh's operation. when CO2 is against the law, then only outlaws will breathe. warmest year for the global temp after nasa adjusted their numbers: 1934. the earth has been warmer before. and recently Lawrence Solomon has documented in his book "the deniers" the massive groupthink and funding extortion on scientists to force them to toe the party line regarding anthropogenic global warming.
indeed, God bless the cecils. *Scott, did you even read the article? Cecil was in psyops. your antimilitary bias is still very well displayed by your last post. you leftists really are sad and pathetic. you shrink from recognizing those who do real sacrifice, and you laud those who are trying to destroy our culture, values, and society.

bflachsbart 10 years, 1 month ago

I congratulate the Cecil's for a having their baby and sincerely hope that with time it continues to get healthier. I also congratulate the Army for doing the right thing. I am also in the military and look at the article from a different perspective. I think it is admirable of the Army to send SPC Cecil home for the birth and also to allow him to stay in the US and finish his tour of duty at Fort Bragg. I was deployed to Iraq with my National Guard unit and was gone for 21 months. During that time I was able to return home for the typical R&R leave but that's never enough time for family. Many of the Soldiers I served with missed being able to be home for their child's birth (even first children) because emergency leave was not granted. The fact that SPC Cecil was granted leave and was able to be there for the birth is certainly a positive step for the Army. As the article pointed out, SPC Cecil was part of a psychological operations team. There aren't many psychological operations teams in the Army and all of them are in high demand. That makes it even more significant that besides allowing SPC Cecil to return for the birth, the Army is letting him stay in the U.S. and not return to Iraq. The Army is often ridiculed for being heartless but in this case I would commend the Commanders that allowed him to return home and not be required to return and ask SPC Cecil to keep that in mind when his time to re-enlist comes up.Major B. Flaschbart, Student, Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, KansasThe views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government

alicenevada 10 years, 1 month ago

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? A. That has got to be the stupidest name I have ever heard of. Reminds me of the time I saw a white trash ghetto mom at Worlds of Fun yelling at her daughter: "Geet over here, Stormy Rain!".B. ENOUGH KIDS ALREADY!!!!!!!!!I weep for the future.

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