THIS picture reminds me daily of a special group of mothers. Yes, it IS the statue of Liberty, ( I have to believe it is no coincidence that the statue is a female....) and on 9/11 many heroes gave their all in the cause of liberty and freedoms - freedoms that this statue represents. A friend of mine told me that on 9/11, America saw the first of this generation's greatest heroes. That is true, just as it is also true that 9/11 created a special group of heroes: the mothers of the 9/11 heroes. My regular readers know that the mothers of 9/11 hold a special place in my heart, and even as I know that every day is terribly hard for these reluctant heroes, I also recognise that today - the 'official' Mother's Day - heightens that pain of the loss of their precious children.
Today, as mothers across north America gather with their children and grandchildren, the mothers of 9/11 carry the emptiness of that huge loss, oh so personally.
(courtesy of FOX News)
Since 9/11, many mothers have joined the age-old sorority of military mothers. Many young mothers have also left their own infant children at home, and become military - stepped up to serve their country - themselves.
Claire - a military mom - is a friend of mine. A fellow blogger, she wrote a piece in 2007 on her own role as a military mom:
Mother’s Day Reflection from a Military Mother
May 9, 2010 By Claire
I wrote this in 2007 with much love and affection. This came to my heart and mind as my son fought in the surge in Baqubah Iraq and buried more friends in a year than any young man ought to. The Lord has been faithful and good. My son’s heart has been broken, but not hardened. That has been my faithful prayer.………………
I am willing to bet most folks believe there are no blessing to be found by the mother of a soldier during a time of war. I am of the mindset that there is something we are obligated to learn regardless of our circumstances. Suffering in this life is inevitable, but learning and growing is optional. What can a mother learn, or perhaps remember in a new light, about her soldier when he is at war? This is a good place to start if you are searching for blessings.
She may look through photo albums and compare his younger pictures to his most recent one. She may try and remember at exactly what point in his life did he become a soldier? I know the technical answer is after the successful completion of Basic Combat Training, but I mean when did his mind, heart and soul begin to realize that duty is a good thing, and protecting the innocent is a life that is worth living and a life worth giving?
She will learn in time that he is a grown man. He is more grown than she was willing to admit before. He is competent, brave and possesses a work ethic that outshines his civilian counterparts. She may remember his cross country races in High School. She will remember his coach telling her that for his build he should not be able to run like he does. “He has a heart for it!”
Yes, indeed he does...[...]
She has much more, and she ends with this:
...I can point to many things that molded him into someone who can make a difference in the world at a time when a difference is desperately needed. Blessings abound when you stop and think back on all of the things your soldier did while he was growing up that was evidence of an inner-being developing into a servant, a leader, and a soldier.
I like to think that the way his cradle was rocked had a little something to do with it too:
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
To read the rest of this 'must read' column by a mom who is walking the walk, with dignity and grace, go here.
More than a few military mothers have taken to the internet to share their personal journeys. There is Lona's Voice, a site I found recently, and I suggest you go spend time with her here.
This blog is a woman’s voice speaking about life, grief, changes, faith and just plain living. This is my journal. I have three children! My oldest son was a 1st LT that was KIA in Afghanastan on Sept 10, 2009. He was a 2007 top 10% West Point graduate, musically gifted, strong in his faith and fluent in Arabic. My second son will graduate West Point May 22, 2010. He too is strong in his faith, speaks fluent Spanish and will continue to follow his path. My youngest child, a daughter, is a freshman in college and mature beyond years. This is my journey!
The mother's stories are many, and they never cease to amaze me. There is Jennifer Tarbox, who has raised her beloved son alone after the death of her military husband. Her story:
Night Stalker’s Sonby Jennifer Tarbox
My story begins with an act of fate. That is the only
explanation I have for the way I met my husband Jeffery
Tarbox. I knew all of his friends, and most of the guys
in the unit. Jeff had arrived from two tours in Korea
and had gone straight to PLDC. I met him the day he
graduated. And from that point on it was
a whirlwind romance. The only time we
spent apart was when we were working.
We did everything together, and it was
wonderful. We met in June, got married
the beginning of November and started
preparing for the birth of our first child.Jeff was
his son was going
to be born on his
birthday. And he
got his wish
On her site I discovered that the motto for the Night Stalkers is "Don't Quit," and for every hero mother - both of 9/11 and the subsequent military mothers - that motto encapsulates their journey. They do NOT quit; that is not an option. Neither the mothers of 9/11, nor the military mothers who came after them, would have willingly chosen their heroic roles, but they daily show great courage.
I was sent the following poem last week, written by a veteran:
This year on Mother's Day
We should think of offspring lost
And Mothers of all those Troops
Who paid the ultimate cost.
They've watched Sons and Daughters
Sent off to a foreign land
To fight wars and give their all
In some conflicts so ill planned.
But no matter what the reasons
They've always stepped up to the line
To give their lives for Freedoms
Enjoyed by all of yours and mine.
We must Honor all those Mothers
Of all those who have Served
And Sacrifices that they made
With our, "Thanks!", so well deserved.
It takes a very Special Lady
To let Her Child go off to War
Or just to join the Military
With the pride and fear and more.
There's too many Gold Star Mothers
And if you might know of one
Please send Her a special wish
To praise Her Daughter or Son.
Military Moms are the Greatest
With a strength beyond compare
Who hope and pray their loved one
Comes Home safe, from over there.
So, let's keep them in our thoughts
And hope their prayers come true
All those Moms and all those Troops
Who stand Strong and Proud, and True.
Del "Abe" Jones
(Reprinted with permission - check out more from this USAF veteran, here)
A true "Band of Mothers," they are our Soldiers' Moms. (here)
(H/T Tribute to our soldiers on FB...)
As my regular readers know, precious Gold Star Moms hold a special place of gratitude in my heart for so many reasons. I have been blessed to come to know a few of them. My friend Deb Tainsh continues to share her journey with me, and the world, through her writings and public speaking engagements. She and I talked very recently about how hard Mothers Day is for our Gold Star Families. Today there is her latest interview in a local paper:
Military moms reflect on Mother's DayMay 09, 2010 05:46:00 AM
There’s a special case in Deborah Tainsh’s Panama City Beach kitchen filled with Swavorski crystal pieces, a collection that serves as a poignant reminder of Mother’s Day and her son, Patrick.
In 1984, at the age of 14, Patrick went with her husband, David, to buy one of the crystals as a Mother’s Day gift.
It became an annual holiday tradition on Mother’s Day and Christmas, which Patrick continued as he served in Iraq as a U.S. Cavalry scout, Deborah said.
She said the Army sergeant called his father from overseas to make sure he carried on the tradition.
“So, these are very special,” Tainsh said Thursday, as she took one of the Mother’s Day crystal pieces out of the case.
Patrick Tainsh died in Iraq in 2004 from wounds sustained in combat.
He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Silver Star for actions that saved the lives of his commanding officer and other soldiers.
Since Patrick’s death, the Tainshs have turned their grief into a mission to remember the memory of their son and all service members and offer support to other military parents struggling with either the loss of a child or the deployment of their son or daughter.
Part of Deborah Tainsh’s efforts have involved writing; she will officially release her second book “Surviving the Folded Flag,” later in May, a compilation of essays from military parents who have experienced the death of loved ones at war.
The new book follows Tainsh’s “Heart of a Hawk,” released in 2006....
Go read the rest of this interview here. (And yes, you will be able to read a review of Deb's latest book here...soon!)
(Gold Star Moms here)
The list of 9/11 mothers, Gold Star Mothers, Blue Star Mothers, Silver Star Mothers is long, and I cannot possibly name them all here. God knows who they all are, by their names and by their hearts. The header on this column is a play on the words from one of my favourite children's books: Love You Forever. By the prolific, much loved Canadian author Robert Munsch, it traces the relationship between a mother and her son. The recurring theme is that from the child's birth, on through the ages, a mother loves her child. "Love you forever, love you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.. and then later in the book it says: "...as long as I'm living, my mummy you'll be..." Oh, and I found a video of Robert Munsch actually reading this book:
And that IS the truth. No matter where our children's journeys take them, motherhood is forever, eternal. Once you have given birth to a child, you are ALWAYS and forever their mother. A mother's love, the bond between mother and child is unbreakable, unending.
Peter MacKay, Canada's Defence Minister, gave an acknowledgement to military mothers on his site:
Minister’s Mother’s Day Message
May 7, 2010
Mothers' Day holds great significance for all of us and so I want to take a moment to pay particular attention and pay tribute to all mothers who are part of the Canadian Forces family.
Mothers are present throughout our lives to encourage, listen and guide us. In the Canadian Forces family, we share unique challenges and experiences such as deployments, training, and long hours spent at work, which take mothers and fathers away from their children. I am aware of the extra efforts required to maintain family cohesiveness.
On this May 9th, celebrate the love and compassion of the women who have raised us, and thank them for every single moment they have shared with us.
As life gets busy and the everyday routine takes over, this special relationship can sometimes be taken for granted. Please take the time for a respectful gesture of gratitude this Sunday. (Yes, emphasis mine.)
I wish all mothers a wonderful day, and thank you for filling this world with love.(here)
As he says: Please take the time for a respectful gesture of gratitude this Sunday.
Especially for our 9/11 mothers, and our military mothers.
To each and every one of you mothers, I am so grateful, and love you - forever.