Today is Gold Star Mother’s Day- you probably didn’t know that. It’s not on your little Hallmark Calendar- or probably any other calendar you have lying around the house or office. The last Sunday of September has been Gold Star Mother’s Day since June 23rd 1936. This year- and almost every year as long as I have been reading newspapers, there is little or no coverage. There was no big write up in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Huntington Post, the Boston Globe or any other major news group in America.
The White House posted a proclamation by President Obama.
The first Gold Star Mother I met was in 2004. Diane, the Mother of Travis Layfield. Travis was from the city I lived in and Nick knew him, though not well. Nick was still a boot at SOI in Camp Pendleton and I felt it was my duty as a Marine Mom to represent Nick and I at the candlelight memorial being held for Travis at his high school.
|LCpl. Travis Layfield|
I stood there, inconsolable, sobbing hysterically. A Marine standing next to me asked me if I was family. “No. I’m a Marine Mom.” He nodded his head, maybe hoping his mom was stronger than this woman standing next to him was. Later I hugged Diane. I told her how sorry I was. I had no words of wisdom for her. I just knew I never wanted to be in her shoes.
That was the last Marine’s memorial I attended, but sadly, not the last Gold Star Mother I met. Later at Marine Parents’ conferences, I met many others - too many. I marveled at their grace. Though I could tell some were angry, some were broken; some were motivated to carry on. All of them had broken hearts.
Sometimes I found it hard to look them in the eye. Hard- but I still did it. What I have realized over the last 9 years, is that people don’t really want to be reminded of the lives lost at war. Not even the mothers of active duty Marine’s, soldiers, sailors and airmen. The combination of survivor’s guilt and fear that you will one day be in their shoes is too much for most of us. We avoid it like a horrible plague.
Sometimes I think Americans are an ungrateful lot. It seems like we should be doing more for our Gold Star Families. (And our active duty and veteran members of the service for that matter.) And I admit, I could have done more, but fear kept me from getting too close to that group. I did not want to become a member of that club.
I googled Gold Star Mother’s Day, last night and found out there were no articles in any major news group. I did it again today- still no articles. Next year there will be articles- I’m going to start sending them in now. I’m a little late in my gratitude, but I’ll do what I can to make up for it.
Meanwhile, if you happen to run across a Gold Star Family- look them in the eye. Say thank you for your sacrifice. Take a minute from your busy day to let them tell you about their son or daughter who gave their all, for the United States of America.
I found this prayer on one of Travis' many tribute walls. I think it is fitting for today.
And I say the sacred hoop of my people was one of the many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy...
But anywhere is the center of the world.
Black Elk (Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux)