Significance of the Blue Star

The day our son left to go to the Middle East to serve our country, I hung a blue star on our porch wall.  Very few people have mentioned it–if they have even noticed it.  But it significant for us.

I am blue star mom, which means I have a child serving in the military in a war zone.  The Blue Star Mom organization began in 1941 in Flint, MI.  Their membership has waxed and waned over the years, but it is still active.  This brave moms who haved kissed their babies goodbye and stayed at home waiting for word that they are okay are heroes in their own right.  Keeping the home fires burning and spirits high is not easy when news of your child is the exception rather than the rule.

How do we cope?  We pray–not only for our child but for all the others also in harm’s way.  We send care packages so they can have a little piece of home in that land so far away–always tucking in a little extra that can be shared.  We talk to other moms in the same situation and offer hope and comfort to each other.

Some moms do a lot of volunteer work with service people and veterans.  That seems to make them feel a little closer to their own child.  These women are strong but also afraid.  They are hopeful but also sad.  They are proud but also longing for their child to return home.

This is our first deployment–I have met women whose child has done four and five.  They say it doesn’t get easier, but they have learned which coping skills work for them.  Hanging the star, I thought it would be a reminder to me to pray for Mason every day when I saw it.  What I have found, however, is that he is never far from my mind and I pray for him several times a day–no need for a reminder.

So if you see a blue star in a window or on a wall, know what that family is going through and where their baby is.  Say a little prayer for the serviceman represented that he or she comes home safe and sound.  That is what Blue Star Moms want more than anything else in the world.

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Children Thank Veterans

Veterans lined up.  Children passing by to thank them for their service to our country.  What a great sight!

My grandson’s elementary school had a ceremony for veterans today.  He asked his great-granddad to attend.  Daddy (the one in the beige ball cap) was, at first, hesitant, but agreed.  We arrived early and settled in for an enjoyable time of gratitude, patriotic songs, and interesting people.

It was heart-warming to see these youngsters shake hands and thank the military members who were there.  It gives me hope for the future that our children are still being taught to respect our military and express gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

If you see someone this weekend who has served or is still serving, please take a moment to show your appreciation in some way.  What they have done was, or is, difficult for themselves and for their families.  Let them know that we know that we owe them everything.

God be with our military and our leaders in this difficult time.

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Thoughts From a First Time Voter

Did you vote?  Actually I cast my ballot last week to avoid the rush…but stood in line for four hours.  Ok, perhaps I could have gone another time and not waited so long.  However, it was interesting talking to the people in line.

One of the people we talked to was an 18 year old college student who was voting for the first time and it was obvious she was excited.  I asked her many questions about how she chose who she voted for.  It was clear that she had given the matter a great deal of thought.

I asked if she was voting the way her parents were and she laughed.  The young woman said she was but it was not her orginal intention.  One of her classes is a government class and the teacher gave them an assignment to research the issues and how the candidates stood on them.  She told me that before the assignment, she was leaning in one direction, but after doing the project she decided to vote for the other person.  It made her realize how important it was to really know the platform and record for each contender.

We never discussed who we were voting for, but I am sure that the future is in good hands if more young voters are like her.  One thing that impressed me was that she said she took this privilege to vote seriously and wanted to make it count.  She did, in my opinion, because she cast an informed vote.

That is what we need in this country–more people that make an informed decison, based on what the key issues are (not the side issues) for the continuation of our country and on what they feel are the best way to deal with those issues.  Then find the candidate that best fits that criteria and support him or her.  No one is going to agree completely with every candidate, but pick the most important issues and you will find the person you want to lead us.

A group of us waited after we voted for this young lady to come out and we applauded her, congratulating her on joining the ranks of US citizens who love our country enough to vote.  I hope there are many more like her out there.


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Skype is a Godsend

We spoke with Mason!  He is able to use Skype–so not only did we speak with him; we saw him.  Well, the first time we got to see him in real time.  The second time he was having some trouble with the internet and he was only able to talk–no visual.

But it was so uplifting to see him and hear his voice.  It just lets you know he is okay.

And what a wonderful thing for his family.  They get to see him and it doesn’t seem like he is that far away.  He can keep up with everything going on and still feel like part of the family instead of suddenly being an outsider.

Imagine what it must have been like when a man marched off to war and the family heard little or nothing from him until he returned or they received a notice that he was KIA.  Even worse, being told he was MIA or they just never heard from him again.  I can only begin to imagine how unbearable that must be.

My dad told me that during WWII he stopped writing home because it was just too difficult to think about home while he was just trying to make it to the end of each day still alive.  I have often wondered how my grandmother dealt with that.  At some point in the war, she had four sons overseas.  It must have weighed heavily on her.

So, for now, we are missing our Mason but feeling blessed that we live in this time with our technology.  And, as always, we are very proud of him and his comrades who answered the call to serve our nation.

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We knew it was coming.  We dreaded it.  Yet we were proud of our son.  For months I tried not to think about it and didn’t know how I would react to the news of the actual deployment date.  Even though I wrote a book called The Patriot Parent and still believe every word, it was a real test of patriotism when it was my son going into a war zone.

When he called us to say he had a date, I was grateful that Dad was on the phone.  Tears rained down my face and I could not speak for several minutes.  It was finally upon us.

The next few weeks he was busy and had no real time for us.  That was okay.  He needed to spend the time with his wife and daughter.  He needed to put his affairs in order–financially, emotionally, and at home.

We did have the opportunity to visit him and the family.  It was a wonderful weekend with them–laughed a lot and teased and pretended it was just another visit.  That was what he needed us to do.  But when we left to go home, I certainly did hold the hug a little longer and tighter than normal!  I am sure he forgave me for that.

As I found out, deployment is hard on him too–not just us.  Go figure.  Members of the military, before deployment, need to focus on what lies ahead of them.  They do not need to “make things right” with family members or be heckled by overprotective parents’ or wives’ fears.  They need the space to do whatever it takes to prepare themselves–whether it be time spent alone or building that deck that they have been planning for years.

They need love and support and encouragement.  It truly is all about them…and not us.  They usually tend to begin to separate emotionally from family and friends–so if you are facing a loved one’s deployment, don’t take any of that personally.

We were blessed in that our son really did not pull away from us–except he was not as diligent at returning calls or texts.  His dad and I tried to speak to him as often as we normally did, although it was hard not to call or text every day before he left.  During our last phone call before he reported for duty I could hear the strain in his voice.  Now, I realized, was not the time to tell him how much we were going to miss him or how afraid we were for him.  Instead I told  him funny stories of things that happened to us on a recent trip and I could hear his voice relaxing through the laughter.

The day he was to report was very emotional for me and his dad.  When I least expected it, a tear would trickle down.  My husband commented that we had to stop it, but I said no.  In fact I believe that the release of emotion is essential for making it through our son’s deployment.  We agreed to keep it between us and to never let him see it.

Despite our fears, we knew he would be prepared militarily.  It was also true that he was ready emotionally and psychologically–in large part thanks to his wonderful and supportive wife.  That helped us enormously.

He is a good man, loving husband and father, and a proud American who has chosen to protect and defend our country.  We are so proud of him and grateful to him as we await his return home to us.

(note: I am going to blog my feelings about this episode in our lives, partly to help others and partly to help me deal with my feelings.  If anyone wants to share their stories, advice and thoughts I am very happy to receive them..Pat)

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Learn Patriotism at Home!

Recently I saw a YouTube video entitled  I Fought For You by The Sound Tank. It is an excellent way to start a discussion with your child about our country. Next month on November 11 we celebrate Veteran’s Day, a day set aside to honor all those men and women who have served our country and played a part in gaining and preserving our freedom.

Perhaps it means more to me this year that my son is deployed in Afganistan.  Perhaps because my dad, a WWII vet is 88 and every day with him is precious.  I hope you find a vet or someone currently serving and thank him or her.

It is more important than ever that we have these discussions with our children because many forces are trying to take away our freedoms these days and we must be vigilant. But, even more important, we must teach our children to be on guard against attacks from outside and from inside our borders. Some attacks sound innocent enough until you scratch under the surface and find out the true goals.

Therefore we must (and we must teach our children) to never take a pundit’s or a politician’s or a reporter’s word as absolute fact until we have done the research ourselves. Our country has always been united in its desire to protect our freedom. We need to continue on that path or face loss of what we hold dear about our wonderful country.

Talk to your kids–make sure they know that freedom comes at a price. It is sometimes a steep price, but worth it. Ask any Gold Star mom (one who has lost a child in military service) and she will tell you how proud she is of her child’s desire to play their role in our country’s history.

Don’t let our children forget.

My father fought for YOU.

My son fights for YOU.

I pray that God holds each of our troops in His hand.

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Military Families–Unsung Heroes

We all know and appreciate the courage and sacrifice of our military forces.  That can never be overstated.  But today I want to talk about the unsung heroes at home.  They have always been there supporting the troops, loving them, grieving for them, rejoicing at their return, and coping with the difficulties of building lives following long deployments.

Imagine a wife during the Revolutionary War watching a husband march off to fight for the rebels when she only wanted peace with England.

Imagine a mom during the Civil War worrying about her sons who were fighting God knows where–but knowing that one was in gray and one in blue.

Imagine children seeing fathers travel to Europe for the War to End All Wars (WW I) not even knowing where Europe was.

Imagine my grandmother who, during WWII had two sons in Europe and two in the Pacific.  She rarely heard from them–my father told me he stopped writing home because it hurt too much to thing about the fact that he might not ever see the green Tennessee mountains again.

Imagine a family knowing their soldier was going back to the Middle East for his fifth tour, praying that he will again make it home.

These are the people who, over the centuries, have sent and are sending letters, cards, emails, Facebook greetings, and goody boxes.  They have knitted socks and scarves, baked, shopped, and prayed until the loved one comes home.  They have kept the family intact, acting as both mother and father.  Grandfathers have stepped into a father role and coached a baseball team.  Aunts have relocated to help her sister with the kids.  They cope with their own fears and then hide them in order to reassure their children.

They have loved and prayed and still do.  They are filled with pride clouded by fear.  If you know someone whose loved one is in the military, especially if deployed, please tell them thank you.

Because these families do what they do, our troops can concentrate on what they have to do on and around the battlefield so we can continue to live in freedom.

God bless them all.

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