From out the mouths of babes, it is said, come the most wondrous things. But from the mouth of Blue Star Mother Debbie Katsounakis, the word "wondrous" need not apply.
If one were to ask Debbie how to best support the men and women of the armed forces, she would simply say: "America, be united."
For Debbie, and the more than 200,000 other moms who have watched their sons and daughters go off to war since 9/11, being united may seem easy to do, but the sentiment has eluded America since those early days after 9/11.
The word "sensible" or even "practical" would seem to work much better with a public that has grown calloused and ill-informed when talking about the war against terror, especially with regard to Iraq.
Though labeling Americans as being calloused in regard to the war on terrorism will seem harsh to some, it is nevertheless an uncomfortable truth. Where else can you read of American soldiers dying abroad defending their country, wholesale genocide in Darfur, or some form of debauchery in just about any corner of the world, and still find time to worry about who will be the next "American Idol"?
It is precisely because of the liberties and the luxuries that come with being an American that people can go about their daily lives.
Certainly, the public is ill-informed regarding the War on Terror, specifically the war in Iraq. The mainstream media are to be congratulated, as the New York Times and other influential liberal birdcage-liners like the Los Angeles Times have made a cottage industry out of sensationalizing the news out of Iraq. The only problem here is that the computers, typewriters and styluses that are plied by the media elite only seem to spell out "bad news."
Of course, those who do know what is really happening here know that the media have deemed themselves a political party of sorts, and have cast a wide net of negativity and ineptitude around President Bush.
But how does this impact Debbie, and the 100 or so other members of the Modesto/Central Valley chapter of Blue Star Mothers?
For starters, there is no unity where there is no belief of purpose. Obviously, the nation is well split regarding Iraq, but not so when the questions revolve around the war against terrorism as a whole.
But the politics of the issues of Iraq, President Bush, and the entire war against terrorism have little to do with what people like Debbie Katsounakis and thousands of other mothers around the country feel regarding the sacrifice made by themselves, and their children who fight under the belief of — or in — the mission.
Here is the mission of the Modesto/Central Valley Blue Star Mothers and families:
To support the Armed Forces of the United States of America and its veterans;
To advocate for America’s Armed Forces and those men and women who have served their country with honor; to maintain allegiance to the United States; to educate our members and others not to divulge military, naval, or other government information;
To assist and participate in ceremonies which honor, remember and support our military men and women and veterans; To honor those families whose children have died in service to our country; to assist in homeland security, and to uphold the American principles of freedom, justice and equal rights.
Here, though, is where the rubber meets the road:
We shall be a non-political, non-sectarian, non-racial and non-profit organization, and shall not be used for personal or partisan purposes.
Non-political? Non-partisan? Why, that sounds almost unifying! Of course, since I am of a partisan nature and engage in this behavior when I write what I believe to be factual, it is easy to say that my friends on the left would call the entire mission statement put out by the Blue Star Mothers one of right-wing origin and of — gasp! — overtly patriotic design.
When you talk to Debbie, as I did, you can hear how proud she is of all of the soldiers in the armed services, in-country or back home. Her son, Nick, who served with the Army Reserves, is back home after serving an eventful and at times, deadly fourteen months in Iraq.
Nick is assigned to the military police or "MP’s" as they are called. Nick was 21 when he left school, and went to Iraq. Nick escorted convoys to camp "Anaconda," on Balad airfield, about 40 miles north of Baghdad. In all, Nick traveled some 5,000 miles back and forth over the dangerous roads and deserts of Iraq, and he did it for a concept: America, and the freedom that it has always stood for, and the belief that the effort in Iraq is worthy of the sacrifice.
You might ask, "What can I do?" For years now, we have heard that President Bush has asked nothing of the nation, no "national sacrifice" toward the war effort, no "falling on one’s sword," or even the tame "taking one for the team."
The Blue Star Mothers have a few suggestions that go a long way with our troops. Debbie says that the simple act of writing a letter to a soldier in the field is probably one of the best ways to tell these gallant protectors of the freedoms we all enjoy how we unrelentingly support their efforts.
Sending a care package to a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan, with foodstuffs, maybe a good read, even something as simple as socks (a big hit with the troops, I am told) is a worthwhile and rewarding effort.
Send a letter or a card to a soldier recovering in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., or the National Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., or dozens of other military hospitals that our soldiers may be in.
Here’s a big one: Try flying the flag, and showing your love and, yes, put your patriotism on display for all to see, as these exceptional men and women of Americans armed forces do every single day.
If you need help with how best to help a soldier, just ask Debbie, or go find the chapter in your state by visiting the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc., where all the chapters are listed.
It is nearing five years since the United States was attacked on 9/11. Thankfully, we have so far been spared a replay of that day by these Islamofascists terrorists. In no small measure is this due to the Herculean efforts of men like Nick Katsounakis, and women like LCpl. Juana "Chica" Navarro, 20, who was killed April 8, 2006 in Iraq.
For the family of Juana Navarro, the Blue Star that once heralded the fact that she was fighting in the armed services will now change to Gold, and be welcomed by one of America’s oldest and most noble organizations dedicated to the soldier, American Gold Star Mothers.
For Blue Star Mothers are "mothers who now have, or have had, children serving in the military." The American Gold Star Mothers are "an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of our country."
Blue and Gold Star Mothers are the Nation’s Mothers, and it’s conscious in war. They are not to be confused with the Cindy Sheehan-inspired "Gold Star families for Peace," a thoroughly uninspiring and thoughtless group of semi-professional demagogues.
At the end of the conversation with Debbie Katsounakis, I asked what it was that people here at home, safely ensconced within our normal, non-lethal lives, could do.
She replied: "Be united. Take the time and take the effort to thank them for what they do."
For heroes such as Nick, Juana, and the thousands of mothers like Debbie Katsounakis throughout America who watch their children go off to war, nothing is too much, nor too late.
Support the organizations that make America free, and great. Sacrifice, as they do, and have done.