Recently, I heard an Army leader say, “we are the largest family in America.” Another said, “it’s a privilege to get to do this — to serve.”
The enormity of these statements struck me.
The Army is an inherently dangerous profession and, since Sept. 11, 2001, we have been a nation at war. We continue to send America’s sons and daughters overseas to defend the nation — some multiple times. Left behind facing the certainty of the risks those soldiers are heading into are the parents, spouses, siblings and children.
And since we are heading into Mother’s Day weekend, I started thinking about our military mothers and Army values. The Army Values are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
As I reflected on these values, it struck me that our military mothers also live by these values — probably unbeknownst to some of them. Mothers who watch their sons and daughters enlist and commission to serve this great nation and the mothers that put on a brave face for their little ones as they kiss their spouses’ good-bye as they head off on a deployment or a training mission. Two different situations but still embodying the Army values.
Military mothers are fiercely loyal. They support the path of selfless service with devotion and support.
Military mothers celebrate the adventure for their children from city to city and across the world.
Military mothers respect and have faith in the journey by showing their children how to put forth their best.
Military mothers value the Army and honor the calling to serve. Many volunteer in their adopted communities.
Military mothers show emotional fortitude.
The journey for each may be different, but the values they live by are the same.
When I think about Army families, my face smiles and my heart is full. The common bond of selfless service binds us together. The more I thought about our mothers, the more I saw compassion, confidence and kindness. They travel to boot camp graduations and they hold down the fort during deployments. But most importantly, they provide support, love and respect. Asking only for the safe return of those sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters.
As mothers, you provide comfort. You are the pillars of strength. You stand tall and carry on. You smile. You show love. You show support to your children and the children around you. You take the time to stop and listen to a little one’s story. You stop and explain difficult circumstances with tenderness. You are a buffer. You are like a sponge — soaking in a variety of emotions with a brave face and a kind word.
There are so many different emotions that military moms must navigate. If you are the mother of a servicemember, your feelings are different than if your spouse serves. And your feelings are different if your spouse serves and you have children.
The emotions that come over me when I think about all those moments are like waves of happiness, pride and sadness — all hitting at the same time.
Here in the United States, we celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. It was created in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson officially signed the measure. Mother’s Day is celebrated in 46 countries. While versions of Mother’s Day are celebrated worldwide, traditions and dates of celebration vary depending on the country. But the day is celebrated with the same purpose — to celebrate and honor mothers.
So, this weekend, I raise my glass and toast to all the mothers — biological, step, stunt and bonus alike — with honor and respect as you raise and inspire our next generation.
Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and a Herald correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.