This Sunday thousands of families across America will celebrate Gold Star Mothers Day by visiting grave sites of their loved ones. At Arlington Cemetery, there will be wreath-laying ceremonies at the Vietnam Wall and the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Gold Star Mothers is a national organization of moms who have lost a son or daughter in a U.S. military conflict, including the current 2,138 casualties in American’s longest war – Afghanistan.
I am fortunate to have befriended many Gold Star Mothers from greater Kansas City, including Joyce Bussinger Turner from Gladstone, who lost her son, Shaun M. Miller, on July 10, 2010. The 32-year-old Army staff sergeant was killed by a sniper in Kunar Providence in Afghanistan.
Joyce, like so many other grieving loved ones, stays active with the American Gold Star Mothers group and Gold Star Families. She often goes to Fort Campbell, Ky., home base of her fallen son, to visit the group and place flowers by his name and his other fallen comrades.
She, like myself and so many others, is dismayed with the war apathy of many Americans. She emphasizes that the war is still going on.
The stark reality that the war continues was evident with last Saturday’s revelation that three more U.S. soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan, yet few media reported it. Add three more Gold Star families to the ledger.
Asked what advice would she give to new mothers, she wrote: “Don’t let anyone put a time frame on our grief and join organizations such as American Gold Star Mothers or the Tragedy Assistance Programs. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want to watch shows of happy homecomings or even mingle yet with Blue Star Mothers who have not lost a loved one. Don’t listen to anything you conceive as negative regarding your feelings and loss, even if it is not meant to be, just remove yourself from the situation. If you don’t want to do anything yet, don’t. You will know when the time is right for you.”
This Sunday, on Gold Star Mothers Day, won’t you at least bow your head, close your eyes and whisper, “I’m sorry for your patriotic loss and I treasure what the fallen have bequeathed to me – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.
Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.