This Mother's Day I will be thinking of how blessed I am to be a mother and how I can't imagine my life without my little boys--how becoming a mother made me who I am today. I would have never been so dedicated to seeing American Boys in print had I not felt the love of being a mother. That was my connection to this story--no, my father wasn't in the Navy, neither was my husband, that he was (is) a Marine wasn't it, yes I love history, but that wasn't it, either. I wrote American Boys because I am a mother. (People say they cry reading it; I cried writing it.)
I received a letter recently from one of the mothers of the 74. She told me I wrote American Boys with the "critical thinking of a journalist and the tender heart of a mother." It brought tears to my eyes because I could never escape the thought that every single one of these men had mothers who cradled them as infants, who kissed away their boo-boos when they were running and climbing all over the place, it seemed, and who watched their boys become men, and ship off to war. What a terrible thought as I watch my own little boy play with army figurines.
This Mother's Day I will also be thinking of the families of the lost 74 and the survivors of the USS Frank E. Evans. Names are added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial every Mother's Day--seven will be added this year. Thanks to politics-as-usual, this year the group missed its chance to see the names of their fallen loved ones and lost shipmates engraved on the wall once and for all. It is a sad day in America when we do not honor those killed in war.
The efforts to have the names of the lost 74 added continue and will continue, in the words of survivor Steve Kraus, "until its done." Legislation is in the works. This group continues to inspire me. I can't help but think of Eunice Sage in all of this. As some of you know, Eunice lost three sons on the Evans: Gary, Greg, and Kelly Jo Sage. The treasured photo of the three of them in their dress uniform was taken just before they deployed on the ship warship in March 1969, for Mother's Day.
I met Mrs. Sage 12 days before she died in 2010. It saddens me to think she never got to see her sons on that wall in Washington. When I left Niobrara I told her I would do my best to tell her story. Here is the chapter I wrote about my weekend in Niobrara, Nebraska. Click here to read "The Mother" and how Eunice gave me the name of the book.