Gold Star Mother’s Day

30 Sep

Stepping into a new world, one learns the culture slowly. I am one such person when it came (or comes) to military association. In fact I didn’t know there was a Gold Star Mother’s Day until Maria Shriver reached out, about three weeks ago, and asked me to write a piece in honor of the occasion. I have used the Gold Star name association in the past to help convey to people quickly that I, and my family, are “a man down.” I have also done my research on the Gold and Blue star flags and their meaning to ensure I qualify. At any rate, I won’t go on and on about it because I can simply direct you to where she has shared the piece today. And of course, you can also read it here below–

The Label of Love, by Rivka Bent

I confess, labels are hard for me. Not that I don’t love several brands whose label signifies something special. I do have dreams of owning a true Chanel dress and a brand-new pair of Dior shoes. But I choose instead clothes that conceal the label just as my only pair of Yves Saint Laurent shoes are devoid an outer marker. It is just a weird quirk of mine, this label aversion. There is one label I love, however, and for which I make an exception. It is the label of Mom. I have absolutely loved wearing this label since earning it 27+ years ago.

When my children were young and called for me, “Mooooooooommmmm,” the name actually sent a soothing calm over my being and brought a satisfied smile to my face. I did not dread the name calling, I very much embraced it. As my son inched closer to adolescence, he replaced the long-winded call with a quick witted “Mama.” To which I answered by quoting the goofy country song, “Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…,” and would then happily attend to his summons while enjoying the giggle of my own absurdity. Both my children have called me “mom,” and no matter the tone, the label for which it stands has been a source of joy for me always. In fact, it is the label of mother that really struck me about Maria (Shriver). I felt an indirect empowerment from her simply because the first word choice in her biographical title is that of mother. Her inclusion showcases the importance of that role for her and touches me because I echo her sentiments and have loved every minute of my maternal work.

Given this little snippet into my label challenges and my love of mothering, one can imagine the wrestling I’ve had with the seal of Gold Star Mom. While I have sometimes used the new moniker in attempt to ward off further conversation about my son and his demise, concurrently I have also been hiding from it. Quite frankly the Gold Star Mom label I never wanted. But then what mother does? In my grief I see the label as solidifying my story, a reality that’s not supposed to be mine–ever! And even with the understanding that this new status symbol acts as a deflector of sorts, I still question its label value and why I would, or should, showcase it.

With Gold Star Mother’s Day coming up on September 30, my mind is fixed on the company of women to which I now belong. It is in recognizing these other women, I have been better able to see myself. As such, I’ve actually had to set my kicking and screaming aside and allow the honor of the label to shine. My resistance is testament to all of us wearing the brand, for none of us wants to belong to it, let alone wear it! Yet each of us has a story associated with the gold star, and beyond our story is the honor of the sacrifice of our child. If I allow it, my Gold Star tells the story of the 400+ people in attendance at the military processional for my son at the National Cemetery where he is interred. It also speaks of the 21-gun salute signifying his Honorable burial, and then lingers at the somber Presentation of The Flag from the knee-bended Marine who humbly bestowed me the triangular folded stars and stripes. It, tells the story for me.

I am learning, albeit slowly, to wear this Gold Star Mom label with the dignity it is due. Not to shine light upon myself only, but to shine light upon the pathway of honor taken by my son in his short-lived military career. This same recognition glistens brightly for all Gold Star labeled mothers. We wear the label because our fallen are honored by its significance and honoring them is testament of our undying motherly love. Please consider, this 30th of September, to treat an active military person to something special and please, do it in honor of their mom.

6 Responses to “Gold Star Mother’s Day”

  1. Road2Joy September 25, 2019 at 5:52 am #

    Thank you for your story. I think all “Gold Star” mothers feel the same way, I know I struggled with this label, but now I see it as you did; honoring our child and the sacrifices they made.

  2. Margie September 30, 2018 at 2:47 pm #

    What a beautiful essay! TY for sharing this. Your request at the end is also very special.

    Solo el amor prevalece,


    • Rivka And Her Wit September 30, 2018 at 10:02 pm #

      Thank you, Mom. xoxo

      • Hamza Hassan September 30, 2018 at 11:00 pm #

        What a lovely story you have written, Rivka. We have to honour those who served our countries in a way or another.May your son’s soul rest in peace, I’m sure the battlefield he worked on was very proud of him. When it’s your time to join him in eternity, I’m sure the pain of parting will be nothing to the joy of seeing him again.

        • Rivka And Her Wit October 4, 2018 at 7:31 pm #

          Thank you for the kind note.

          • Hamza Hassan October 6, 2018 at 10:50 pm #

            You are welcome, here is a heart-warming story about the power of letting go.

            The Sunken Ship

            The teacher was telling his students the story of a large ship, sinking in the middle of the sea. Aboard the ship, there was a couple as well as a lifeboat for only one person. All of a sudden, the man pushed his wife aside, jumped into the boat, and began to sail away from the sunken ship, leaving his wife to face her impending death alone. As the ship began to sink, the woman shouted at her husband….. At this moment, the teacher stopped telling the story and asked the students, “What in your opinion did she say to him?”

            While most of the students replied that the woman hated her husband and insulted him for leaving her die alone, the teacher noticed that one of the students was sinking in his own thoughts. He approached the boy and asked him his opinion. The boy straightened himself and said to the class, “I think the woman said to her husband, ‘Please take care of our child.’, right?” The teacher was shocked by the boy’s response and asked him, “Did you read this story before?” “No, sir,” said the boy. “I didn’t read it before, but this is what my mother said to my father just before she died of the chronic disease she was diagnosed with.”

            “You are right,” said the teacher and then continued the unfinished story. The ship sank in the sea and the man returned back to his home where he took care of their daughter. Years later, the man, himself, passed away and his daughter found a notebook written by his own hand. In his notes, the man mentioned that he and his wife were in a voyage across the sea after doctors diagnosed her with a chronic disease. Just moments before the ship sank, the man jumped into the only chance of surviving and wrote, “Sweetheart, I wish I could give you the chance to survive and to take care of our daughter, but your disease didn’t leave any other choice. My heart is filled with pain and deep sadness for this hard decision. Rest in peace, sweetie, our daughter will have a beautiful life.”

            – Strength doesn’t always mean holding tightly onto something precious God has given to us, it sometimes means letting go when we are destined by fate.

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