1948 Ford Station Wagon
Handwritten notes: "Gold Star Mothers, Memorial Day Parade, Denver Colo. 1950."
And in another pen by another hand:
"during Dawnrend [sp?] Convention
from Art & Mary Anderson, 301 West State, Algona Iowa"
I am introducing this series with this photograph because it is connected to every other image in the collection, because it is connected to all of us who call ourselves Americans. For the presence of this photograph, as simple and as random as it may seem, points us to an inescapable conclusion: one of the girls or women whose eyes we can look into some eighty to one hundred years later in these portraits lost a child in the defense of our country.
Those of us who do not come from families with a strong military tradition cannot imagine the depth and suddenness of her loss and sorrow. But it is a loss that many American families have shared since the founding days of the Republic.
A loss shared particularly during the last hundred years, when the United States has borne the majority of the burden of taking the offensive against enemies who threatened our way of life, enemies who had to be met and defeated by placing our sons and fathers and brothers and mothers and sisters and daughters in harm's way.
The American Gold Star Mothers is a federally-chartered organization whose membership is comprised of women who have lost a son or daughter in the defense of the United States in all of the wars and conflicts from WWI onward. This photograph, which we have to assume was sent from one member to another, is a poignant reminder that somebody in Our Girl's family suffered such a loss.
It is a loss that many families will continue to endure for the defense of everything that we cherish and hold dear to us, and which we probably all too often took for granted prior to 9/11.
And while we may likely be motivated by a nagging sense of revenge, we are motivated more importantly by the desire to prevent such an attack from ever happening again. This means that many American families, today, right now, have sons and daughters in positions of forward advance having to engage the enemy in direct combat.
The worry for their loved ones that these mothers endure while they continue with the day-to-day tasks of maintaining a household and keeping on with living life may seem unbearable to those of us who don't have to make such a sacrifice.
The pain of losing a child in warfare seems to us even more unbearable, which is why we need to keep them in our hearts and remember them in our prayers. As a nation, we owe the Gold Star Mothers our undying gratitude for all that they have sacrificed on our behalf.
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