11 May, 2008

Of Mothers and Soldiers

I've had a secret since last night... It was a hard secret to keep. This afternoon as I sat next to my mother at the baseball game (my team won!), I kept smiling as I suddenly remembered once again:

Patti was voted "America's Favorite Mom!"

Humbled by the honor, Patti is thrilled to be able to use it to continue the Soldiers’ Angels mission of “May No Soldier Go Unloved.” As the grand prize winner, she will receive $250,000, a set of household appliances, and other valuable items. Patti hopes to apply the winnings to her plans for a small ranch that will allow newly returned soldiers to relax with their families after deployments.

“I really am lucky to know so many heroes in my life,” said Patti, who herself has two sons in the Army, one currently deployed to Iraq. “Whether they are the troops who serve our country or the amazing mothers here on this America’s Favorite Mom program, I am honored to be in the presence of such inspirational people and also am humbled to know that America thinks the same of me.”

There are so many wonderful mothers out there (including my awesome, incredible, fabulous mom!), but there are few out there who positioned to do as much as Patti will with the gift of being recognized as such.

Because Patti has been recognized for being "mom" to hundreds of thousands of soldiers and thousands more Angels, even more people are going to be drawn into her wake as her energy, inspiration and enthusiasm connect people across the country with the men and women of the U.S. military who need our nationwide love and support.

In the September of 2001 when it became clear what kind of war lay ahead of us, my mother and I talked on the phone about what war can do to those caught up in it. I was soon in tenderhearted tears at the thought of what others might be enduring on my behalf. When I commented that our warfighters were going to be fundamentally changed by their experiences, having voluntarily given a piece of themselves to our ultimate benefit, she said something I've never forgotten: "And that's exactly why we must welcome them back with open arms when they come home, always make sure they have what they need, always be there for them."

Patti has become the embodiment of that ethic my mother voiced that day:

May no soldier go unloved,
May no soldier walk alone,
May no soldier be forgotten,
Until they all come home.

The more I have gotten to know Patti and to see how Soldiers' Angels operates, the more amazed I am at what motivated, dedicated and open-hearted people can accomplish. To call Patti "America's Favorite Mom" is to highlight an army of men an women who are mothering our warfighters. 'Cause even soldiers need an army of Moms at their backs...