Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

This week had had the honor and the privilege to be among our community’s proudest mothers – the Blue Star Mothers. All mothers have that special sparkle about them when they talk about their children, but there is something different in the twinkle when you talk to a mother whose child has gone off to war.

The Blue Star Mothers Organization began as a Veteran Service Organization to provide care packages to military serving overseas and offer assistance to their families here at home. In 1960, the United States Congress chartered the Blue Star Mothers of America as a Veterans Service Organization and they have dutifully kept this organization going strong by supporting families awaiting their child’s safe return or consoling those whose son or daughter will not come home.

One of the toughest parts of being your Congressman is to talk to moms and dads that have lost a child in action. It is grief I cannot fully relate to and one we all pray we never know. But their courage and their understanding of their child’s sacrifice is powerful and inspiring. Every Blue Star mother knows that in a split second their lives can change forever and their Blue Star banner can turn to Gold.

During World War I, if a son had gone off to war in the War to End All Wars, as it was called, a banner was hung in front of the home in the window for each son in the military. This banner had a blue star in the center of it. If the son was killed, a gold star was superimposed over the blue one.

This concept was created by Grace Seibold on Christmas Eve 1918 upon learning that her aviator son was killed in aerial combat in France. Grace Seibold directed her grief and sorrow to helping the wounded in local D.C. hospitals. She formed the Gold Star Mothers to give support for other such moms.

During World War II, my Grandmother Poe hung such a banner with a blue star in the front window of her home in the country. My dad went off to war when he was just 18. When my grandmother died, it was one of the few items she had saved. That banner never had to have a gold star placed on it because my dad returned safely. These banners have been carried throughout all of America's wars since World War I.

As a father of four, I can think of nothing worse than to lose one of my own children. No parent wants their son or daughter killed in unknown foreign lands. No parent wants their child to predecease them, and no parent wants their child to die in their youth. But it happens, and the grief can only be understood by other such parents.

Mothers are special, especially the mothers of those who wear the American uniform. Those who keep statistics on the last words of soldiers say more often than not that the dying words of many soldiers in combat is, ``Mother, mother.''

It seems to me the strongest bond in all of creation is the bond between a mother and her child. The good Lord made it that way on purpose, and when that bond is broken by the loss of a child, that wound just never heals.

One out of every ten people in the military is from the State of Texas. Roughly 10 percent of the total killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been Texans. Yet sons and daughters throughout America continue to join our military knowing that they will no doubt go into the desert of the sun and the valley of the gun, and they leave behind their parents, their mothers.

So as we show honor and respect to America's children who serve, let us show American compassion and ultimate gratitude for the mothers of those troops who display the Blue and Gold Star sacrifice from their windows. And the next time we pass a house with one of these stars maybe we should stop and say a prayer and say ``thank you'' because of that special mother who gave that child for the rest of us.

And that's just the way it is.