Pride and love |

Pride and love

A string of dog tags and a Marine ring hang from Lou Ann Harkins neck every day.

A mother of seven, she wears the jingling tags as a reminder of her son Eric, 20 a Marine stationed in Afghanistan and Thomas, 22, a Marine who served one tour in Iraq.

At summer’s end, Harkin’s daughter Tyne, 25, will leave for bootcamp.

Harkins is one of about 35 women involved with the local non-political chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America.

“We’re just here to help each other,” Harkins said. “It gives me another connection to my kids.”

Blue Star Mothers dates back to 1942, when a group of 300 mothers of serviceman met at a hotel in Flint, Mich., to support one another. The group was chartered by Congress in June 1960.

The Sierra Nevada Chapter includes mothers from Nevada and North Placer counties who have or have had children serving in the U.S. military.

Each month the military mothers with varying backgrounds gather to share photographs and stories along with fears that other people just don’t understand.

“You wake with terror. You sleep with terror,” said Lynnette Ellison, president of the group. “We know it’s kind of insane to live like that.”

Through meetings, women involved in the group have discovered those kinds of reactions are to be expected.

“It’s a normal way to handle a very abnormal situation,” Ellison said.

Proudly worn pinned to their lapel, stuck onto their vehicles or hanging from the windows of their home, the Blue Star symbolizes hope – for their children’s safety – and pride in what their children are doing for their country.

Mother’s Day can be tough like most holidays when their children are away from home.

“You want them around you,” Harkins said.

It’s also a day of honor, said Louise Bock, vice president of Blue Star Mothers and mother of Army serviceman James D. Bock.

“It’s a very proud day,” she said.

Editor’s note: Click here to read a three-page report on Military Moms’ thoughts of their sons and daughters on Mother’s Day weekend:

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