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Your Military Sons and Daughters

Thank You from Blue Star Mothers Fredericksburg

As we prepare for the holidays we can get really caught up in all of the shopping, baking, fun, parties and everything else that brings us joy and happiness. This Thanksgiving was an extra special holiday for all of the members of Fredericksburg Blue Star Mothers. 

I imagine that we had quite a few tears being shed at the dining room tables - for the missing son, daughter, cousin, niece or nephew or even mom and dad that was not able to be home with their family. I remember being the family with the missing daughter at the table - as well as the family who could not get home because of deployments, scheduling, weather, etc.

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Just last weekend we celebrated yet another successful care package drive, thanks to so many in our community. It was amazing to watch corporations offer their time, money, staff, food and space in order for us to mail about 250 care packages to our deployed troops. This time packages were sent to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.

Watching our famous Teri Reece kiss the palms of her hands and then touch the top of each and every package with the words..."God Bless You" brought tears to my eyes as it does every time. We had retired Spotsylvania school administrators,representatives from MOAA, Starbucks, Walmart and Spotsylvania firefighters. All in all over 70 community leaders came together to make this event a success.

Teri_s_Kiss.jpgKissing_Each_Package.jpg

We would like to give a special thank you to Firestation #12 in Stafford. They went above and beyond with their time, energy and "backs" to make our event a success. Where else would you see a Walmart and Starbucks manager packing, taping and loading boxes onto a school bus?

I know that I have missed saying thank you to a lot of people. There are just so many to thank. Know that you are NOT forgotten. It is because of your graciousness and generosity that we were not only able to send all of these boxes, but also afford to send them. Each box costs $16.45 to mail. 

The Blue Star Mothers say "thank you" to everyone who participated. You all hold a special place in our hearts.

Linda Clevenger

1VP Blue Star Mothers Fredericksburg  

 

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Welcome Home Marine!

There is so much going on in our world...it is hard to keep track of it all. One thing that we (the parents of military children) know for sure is that serving in the military (no matter which branch) takes a toll on all of us.

Thank You Marine!_1.jpgHowever, we still have so much to celebrate! The seasons will soon change, the leaves will display vibrant colors. We will enjoy the crisp, cool autumn mornings and the beautiful sunsets. It is football season, too. This is why fall is my absolute favorite season of the year. This fall is different for so many though. I don't know if you have followed the news at all, or maybe you have already forgotten (I hope not), that our area has suffered since the last time that I posted a blog.

I won't mention names, but there are two little children in our area, that will not have the opportunity to run to their daddy to get hugs and "sugar". Their memories of daddy are of the pictures that (I'm sure) are hanging throughout the house - and maybe in their bedrooms. And, maybe even around their necks in a locket.

When his funeral procession went through Fredericksburg and Stafford, it hit home for everyone. We aren’t used to seeing people lined up along the highway in the middle of a work day, waving American flags. For our local Blue Star Mothers Fredericksburg Chapter, it especially hit home. You see, what most people aren’t aware of is that our President’s son was also on this same mission.  

Nancy’s son returned "home" to California over the weekend to a bitter sweet reunion of mom, dad, his wife and, of course, their two dogs!  And, you bet, she flew all the way to California to see "her Marine" hit American soil! Nancy and John have two awesome sons who are both Marines. And, sometimes, although not too often, they are actually able to be a "family" and all be together. Until that happens, they celebrate each and every moment that they have with their sons - because it seems that they take turns deploying outside of the U.S.

As we make the transition into a new season and look forward to the upcoming holidays, I'd like to invite you to take just a moment to say "Thank You" to everyone who is serving in our military. Yes, joining the military is a choice. I understand that totally. However, this does not lessen the sacrifice that they make to serve us and their country. The two small words “Thank You” words mean so much to everyone who serves.

Our next Blue Star Mothers (VA4) open meeting will be held on October 18th from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon at the Salem Church Library on Salem Church Road. For more information please contact Nancy @ 540-752-8020 or visit our website @ www.bluestarmothersva4.org

 

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Honoring our Fallen Hero

Honoring_Our_Fallen_Heros.jpgThis week was one of the hardest weeks ever in the life of a Blue Star Mother. We laid to rest a local Marine who lost his life in Afghanistan. Along with two of his fellow Marines, in the blink of an eye, he made the extreme sacrifice.

As we celebrate the 4th of July, it is time to remember and be thankful for those who serve our country  and why they serve our country.

I met my husband 32 years ago. I knew absolutely nothing about the military; I had grown up on a dairy farm and I knew how to milk cows! I remember his words, like it was yesterday. “I am a Marine first. God, Country and Corps…in that order”.  If you can’t deal with that then we shouldn’t get married. Even though I was shy and an introvert and had never lived away from family, I knew that it would be okay. I loved him enough to make that sacrifice for him.

When we receive word that our child is being deployed, we begin a preparation process. We trust that it will all be ok, every day. We are so proud of our children for making the decision to join the military and pray daily for their safe return to us.

This week I stood at Quantico National Cemetery and watched the courage and strength of a spouse who is now left behind to raise two small children all alone. I can’t imagine the pain that she must have felt. Daddy won’t be coming home to give mommy a break and take the children to the park.  Daddy won’t be there for birthdays, Christmas and all of the other holidays. The first day of school, the list of “misses” is too long to even mention.

When your child (or spouse) is in the military, it is expected that they will miss holidays, birthdays and special events. I have been fortunate, my husband only missed one Christmas with our children and I was a complete basket case. I made it through five minutes of church on Christmas Eve and had to walk out. I couldn’t hold myself together. I missed him so much. I can’t imagine how SSgt Stewart’s wife felt when she received the word that her husband made the extreme sacrifice.

I will always remember watching her and feeling my heart just sink. Her life changed in a heartbeat. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and let her know that I was so sorry for her loss. I remember the children being handed their very own American flags by a Marine who went down on one knee, presenting both children with a flag in honor of their daddy. The only word that describes that feeling is sadness. I found myself just looking up at the sky with tears running down my face, saying a silent prayer that somehow the pain will not be too much for her to bear. And then, out of nowhere, in the heat of the day, a cool breeze started to blow. It allowed me to take a deep breath and actually feel the love that surrounded this family and know that this family was special. It would all be ok.

As we celebrate Independence Day, please remember all of our military who are currently serving and those who have served in the past. Their lives were forever changed through their time in the military and they have so many stories to share. Their service to our country changes our lives and protects us in ways that we are not aware.

I’d like to dedicate this blog to all of the members of the 1st Marine Division, 7th Marine Regiment, 29 Palms, California who are currently serving in Afghanistan and especially to the four Marines that lost their lives. Even though we didn’t know you, you will always hold  special place in our heart.

If you would like to help support our local military, please visit our website @ www.bluestarmothersva4.org

 

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Honoring our High School Grads

Graduation is a very exciting time. As parents we are happy for our children (and maybe grateful that we have made it through too!).  It is a new chapter in the life of our new “adult” children. It is also very scary.

Not every graduate knows exactly what they want to do when they grow up. It isn’t easy to know what you want to do “with the rest of your life”. College is a goal and option for a lot of high school graduates, but it isn’t for everyone.

Our area is made up of a large population of active duty and retired military from many different bases which include the Army, Marine Corps and Navy. For example, take our family; we moved here 22 years ago when my husband accepted his last duty station at Quantico Marine Corps Base.

In 2012 our area began to “salute” our local graduates for their decision to join the military upon graduation from high school. . The organization is called Our Community Salutes.

Nancy Kearney, President of the Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg, coordinated and organized this year’s event, which was held on May 15, 2014 at the University of Mary Washington, Dodd Auditorium. We received a list of all of the enlistees from our local area recruiters. The list had 178 names on it!

OCS-2014We were able to honor about 85 of the graduates at OCS Ceremony and it was a real tear-jerker.  We wanted to make this an extra special event and Nancy didn’t let anyone down. Congressman Wittman was our keynote speaker, a World War II Veteran shared his personal story and made us of all laugh when he told the graduates that they were never too old to have a girlfriend! And representatives of the Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy all spoke to the graduates to congratulate and motivate them on their decision to join the military.

It was a great night full of laughs, tears, excitement and anxiety (mostly on the part of the parents). To everyone who participated, we would like to say a huge thank you! We couldn’t have done it without you and you made the ceremony a class act!

As our graduates collect their high school diplomas this weekend, the Blue Star Mothers would like to wish you the very best. Whether you serve in the military for a term or as a career, you have made a life changing decision and we are proud of you.

For all of the families who attended the event, congratulations to you as well! We know that watching your child go off to boot camp will be hard. We understand that you will be anxious and maybe even worried. If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to contact the Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg. Remember, we are here to support you because your child’s decision will also change your life.

To find out more about Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg, visit our website @ www.bluestarmothersva4.org.

 

 

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When Do You Cry?

The Month of May is Blue Star Mothers Month! Blue_Star_Door.jpg

When do you cry? You may find this title a bit odd. But, as the mother of a child who serving our military, we can cry for a lot of reasons and sometimes for no particular reason at all!

We know that our child is serving in the military because they are a proud American. Some other adjectives that describe our children are: patriotic, loyal, strong-willed, purpose-driven and persistent.

There are also some of the reasons that we, as mothers (and fathers), cry. We are proud of them because of their patriotism, loyalty, stubborness (because they probably got that from us), their drive to strive for more out of life and their refusal to give up.

We cry they leave for war and then again when they come home from war. We even cry when we see the green dot on Facebook because we are just so happy! Having a child in the miltary is amazing... and also amazingly stressful. 

We cry because there is an empty place at the dinner table and their bedroom is vacant. We cry because there is always a hole in our heart.

We are able to cry for each other at our monthly meetings. This is where we share the "why" of our cry and everyone understands. We pass around a small globe of the world that we can hold and imagine that we are holding our child in our hands. 

We cry mostly because we are just proud of them and their accomplishments. There is nothing more important to a mother than the feeling that you have raised a great child who is serving his/her country.

 If you see us crying...don't worry! It's not personal.  

For more information about Blue Star Mothers, contact Nancy Kearney @ 540-752-8020 and check out our website @www.bluestarmothersva4.org.

This article was written by Linda Clevenger, 1VP of BSMVA4

 

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About Blue Star Mothers

Blue Star Mothers Fredericksburg is a community group that provides support to each other and local military families who have given their children to serve our Nation. We support every branch of the Armed Forces and it's veterans through patriotism, education and social events. We support our community and its active and deployed military through on-going service projects, including providing our servicemen and women with care packages. For more information about National Blue Star Mothers you can visit their website. To find our local chapter click here.

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