Circe Olson Woessner

It would be remiss of me to end Military Appreciation Month without thanking a lot of military mothers for their service to this country. 

Military mothers are diverse. Some are mothers who have children who’ve joined the military, some mothers are in the military and/or are raising military children i.e. brats. Another kind of military “mom” is the dedicated NCO who takes her young service women and men under her wing, and then there are all those ersatz mothers who adopt single troops for “welcome homes,” the holidays, birthdays, etc., to ensure that they have a great home-cooked meal and a wonderful day.

Some of my friends tell stories of their mothers making barely livable Quonset huts into comfortable homes or creating meals from next to nothing at the end of the month, stretching an already-stretched paycheck until payday. Another friend remembers her mother going door to door during the Vietnam War, offering comfort to the wives who’d just found out their husbands had been killed.

One man recently told me that his family was stationed overseas right after WWII. After learning that the locals were scavenging through trash cans foraging for food, his mother always neatly wrapped leftover portions of their own meals and placed them outside to make sure the hungry people had safe, clean food to sustain themselves. 

These military wives and moms had backbones of steel, hearts of gold and served right alongside their husbands! 

A retired Air Force friend tells me that she had two very young Airmen in her squad, who, for whatever reason, couldn’t get along. So, she assigned them the task of cleaning a room together. Once they began, she locked them in the room, and sat on the other side of the door and waited, and listened for the fireworks to subside. This tough love resulted in the two young women becoming good friends and great troops. 

This month, the VA launched its nation wide Baby Shower Initiative consisting of dozens of baby showers for new and expectant military mothers to remind women veterans that the VA offers comprehensive maternity care services. 

VA Executive Dr. Carolyn Clancy said, “It’s our way of thanking (military mothers) for your service and for being the rock we all depend upon. We celebrate your strength and your courage. Because to be a military mom is to be something truly extraordinary.”

Although my own mother probably doesn’t consider herself to be an Army mother, she truly is. She is always there for my Army husband and me, mailing us care packages halfway around the world, visiting us as much as possible no matter where we were stationed, welcoming me home (with kids and pets in tow) whenever my husband went TDY or deployed, and I wanted to come “home,” and babysitting her granddog. She is my rock.

For Mother’s Day, our museum invited people to send in a decorated potholder in honor of their military mothers. We got some real beauties — and one, in particular, stood out. It read, “My mother was the decorative stitches that made life pretty, the batting that kept us safe from harm and the binding that held us together. My mother was every fiber in this potholder.” 

So, for all the military mothers out there, we at the museum salute you and thank you for all you have done and continue to do under extraordinary circumstances with considerable grace. 

Thanks, Mom!

Circe Olson Woessner is the executive director of the Museum of the American Military Family and Learning Center.