By Amy Guckeen Tolson, Staff Writer Redstone RocketNovember 16, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--They do things that no one else can quite understand -- visiting Alaska in minus 62 degree temperatures just for a chance to see their child, keeping up the Christmas tree and decorations long after the holidays have passed, and retracing the spot where their son had etched his initials on the brick of their home every two weeks. But for the Blue Star Mothers of Morgan County, as military moms, it's a sense of understanding that unites them.
"This is a grief," said Marie Pierce, whose son Spc. Timothy Pierce is serving with the 1165th Military Police Company, Army National Guard in Kabul, Afghanistan. "It's a grief, and to just be around regular friends and family, they have no way of knowing, I can't express what it is, but I can go to Blue Stars and I don't have to say a word. I don't have to say a word but I know that they're there and they understand."
"We're going through the same thing and it helps to know that there are other people in the world who know what we're going through," Theresa Groves said. "Even though we don't spend a lot of time talking about that, I think it's better to have something to do, an activity, a physical movement. We feel like we're contributing something."
That contribution is monthly care packages the group sends to troops overseas, the organization of military mothers' primary outreach. From hand warmers to blankets, bags of popcorn to miniature Christmas trees for the holidays, the moms are proud to send a little piece of home to far off lands. Currently around 50 servicemembers receive a little love from Morgan County every month; the group is accepting addresses to expand that list.
"It makes me feel like I have some control, because no matter where he is in the world, mama can still love him," Pierce said.
While the monthly care packages are a concrete sign of their outreach, for the women that make up the group, the connection they feel to one another is just as important, if not more so. While it is not the path they dreamt of when they gave birth to their baby boys, it is the road they find themselves walking now.
"None of us is here by choice," Pierce said. "Our children made this choice and we're here because of those choices that they made. None of us would want to be in this. Even though that's not what I would've chosen for him, he has to be who he's called to be, and that is a Soldier."
Shelby Powell always knew that her son Josh would enter the Air Force. "In his mind there was never a choice," Powell said. Even though her maternal instinct has at times hoped that choice would change, as many of the other mothers in the group have felt, the joy and pride they feel in who their children have become is indescribable.
"You can't describe it," Powell said. "Every day I tell Josh, I don't think I could be any more proud of you than I am today. But then tomorrow I'm more proud than I was yesterday."
"We all understand each other's pride," said Violet Kaylor, whose son, Cpl. Jon-Erik Loney was killed in Iraq in 2006. "Nobody else can understand."
It is those feelings that no one else can quite understand, the worry, anxiety, fear and frustration, that unites them, like the anger that can at times bubble up doing something as simple as standing in the checkout line at Walmart, watching as the rest of the world goes about with their daily lives, as the moms struggle with missing their children, or longing just to hear their voice. Even though they only meet once a month, the group is in constant contact with each other, calling, emailing and texting, their bond so strong that they can even sense when another mother is having a bad day.
"It's hard to put this into words because it's all so unspoken," Pierce said of the group's bond as military moms.
"And it's always on our brain, all the time," Groves added.
"It's sort of like you live it and breathe it," Powell said.
For more information about the Blue Star Mothers of Morgan County, visit www.bluestarmothersofmorgancounty.com. The group meets the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at East Highland Baptist Church, 1030 Main Street East, Hartselle. Monetary donations or addresses of servicemembers serving overseas may be sent to P.O. Box 712, Hartselle, AL, 35640.