Sunday, September 09, 2012

Gold Star Mother Tea

 It's no secret I love what I do. There is an indescribable satisfaction that comes to my heart when I am able to share stories with others. You can't see it, but there's a heart line that forms between the listener and teller that bonds them together during the story. The storyteller is no longer simply telling a story, the storyteller and listener are sharing an experience. The experience refills my soul every time. I always feel blessed when I am invited to partake of such a moment.

Yesterday, however, the blessing went beyond the norm. I was invited to share a story at a Gold Star Mothers tea presented at The Stillwater est. 1997. The gold star represents those who have lost a son or daughter in battle. Every guest at the tea was someone who had experienced such a loss. Miss Tonia had told me that she had felt a tangible reverence as she had been preparing for the tea, so I thought I knew how I would feel. In truth, I didn't have a clue.

The emotion in the room was palatable. Pride, pain, peace, anger, ache, longing, celebration, love, wisdom, support, yearning, satisfaction - I could go on and on - it all swirled through the room. As I looked into the eyes of my listeners I realized I may have an academic understanding of the last 10+ years of war our country has been engaged in, but it's all been sterilized somehow. But yesterday, I felt the emotions these people carry in their hearts each and every day. Reverence is an understatement.

In truth I felt reverence and so much more. I also felt an overwhelming wave of pride and shame.

Pride because our nation has a completely volunteer army. There are those who claim this negates the honor somehow, as if they are all mercenaries, not patriots. Nothing could be further from the truth. A sentiment I heard voiced over and over is that these warriors were there because they felt it was where they should be. One mother shared the peace she felt from a picture of her son taken just the day before he died. The image is of children reaching out to her son [in full battle array] with obvious gratitude on their faces. The son's arm is outstretched back to the children, the look on his face is one of pure love and joy. A burned out building creates a stunning backdrop to the image. She declared the picture brought comfort because it reminded her that he was where he knew he was supposed to be serving to make the world a better place for those children and for all of us.

Shame because as a nation we've turned this into a silent war. We support the troops, we put the yellow ribbons on our cars and we thank those in uniform we see....but what of those we lose? Someone expressed to me the helplessness she feels when she sees the gold star. "I don't know what to say, nothing I say will help them, so I say nothing." I don't think she is alone in her discomfort. Can you imagine the deafening silence such an act creates in the lives of those who mourn a soldier?

I read an article yesterday that declared on average we've lost a soldier a day. Statistically, that's a dramatic improvement over the losses our nation suffered in past wars, but statistics mean nothing to the families of those dead soldiers.

I was deeply honored to spend time with these valiant survivors. The last Sunday in September is Gold Star Mother's Day in the United States. I'm pretty certain it wouldn't be too hard to find such a mother, sister, brother, father, wife, husband, cousin, or friend, near you. It seems to me a hug and a 'thank you' is a good place to begin to break the silence. Ask them to share their story. Let them tell you about their fallen hero, I promise as you listen you'll discover a heart line forming a bond for you both.

To learn more about the Gold Star Moms organization visit:


  1. What a great reminder for all of us to reach out and learn from these women! I am constantly amazed by how much I don't know and by the depth and power of experience. Thanks for the share!

  2. yes, thank you for sharing! the tears and lump in my throat were worth it. we really do need this reminder as a nation. what a neat experience for you to participate in this, and what a wonderful organization.