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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Healing only through God

Bernice Mattson, a member of St. Peter Lutheran Church, Luck, Wis., says that only God has gotten her through this past year. On Sept.11, her son, Lt. Col. Dean Mattson, was killed in his Pentagon office. He was 57 and looking forward to retirement after serving in the Army for 35 years.

"Dean was dedicated to his country and very much in touch with his family," Mattson says. He was one of five brothers, three of whom are still living. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Peter and graduated from Augsburg College, Minneapolis, before joining the Army.

"I'm devastated that [Dean] has been taken, and so are his brothers," Mattson says. "But we realize that we aren't alone, that the attacks affected so many people. We do not feel that we are singled out."

Since Dean's death, Mattson has been touched by the support she's received from the members of St. Peter. She is also grateful to the Army, especially for the way she and her family were cared for during their trips to the Washington, D.C., area for her son's burial at Arlington National Cemetery and at the memorial service at the Pentagon. "The military is a tender, loving family," she says.

But her greatest support has been her faith. "Without God, I couldn't have made it," she says. At 85 years old, Mattson has weathered many hard times — including the deaths of her husband, two sons and a granddaughter. "The only healing there is," she says, "is through God."


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