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Thanking military moms

Mothers and grandmothers at Warrior to Citizen's Mother's Luncheon could sit down and make a card to send to their sons or daughters serving in the military.

They were there. The mothers. The grandmothers.

They were there, wearing yellow ribbons pinned over their hearts. Each ribbon bore the name of a loved one who is serving or has served his or her country.

Some wore pins with the faces of sons and daughters in uniform. Others wore sweaters of red, white and blue. Still others had sweatshirts proclaiming their affiliation: "USAF." "A Proud Navy Mom."

This was the Warrior to Citizen Mother's Luncheon Saturday.

In one corner of the social hall at St. Michael's Catholic Church, the Red Hat Ladies chorus sang standard favorite patriotic tunes. "Yankee Doodle Dandy." "This Land Is Your Land." "The Star Spangled Banner."

One mother scurried to the side entrance. Her daughter, serving in Iraq, had called her cell phone, perhaps to say Happy Mother's Day. The conversation was brief, private. It ended with an "I love you," followed by the snap that comes when a cell phone is closed. As the mother bustled back into the social hall, she cast a smile over her shoulder.

About 60 women attended the luncheon, the second of its type hosted by Farmington's Warrior to Citizen group. Warrior to Citizen founder Annette Kuyper said the luncheon is held as a way to help mothers and grandmothers connect.

"When my son was deployed, I found it was very therapeutic to be around other mothers," she said. "They feel a connection when they're together. You can get a lot of support from each other."

The meal was served by volunteers - at least two dozen of them showed up to help. While the women dined, Kuyper called off the names of winners of the many door prizes that had been donated for the event.

Several "pampering stations" were set up around the hall. In one corner, the women could get portraits taken. Free neck massages were offered, and skin care clinicians were on hand to give tips.

Another table held cardstock in red, white and blue, stamped with the simple messages: "I love you" and "My hero."

The guests chatted, chuckled, smiled. The conversations came easily because they shared something. Someone they love has risked his or her life for freedom.

"They meet each other at the table and they discover they have so much in common. Plus, there's so much energy in the room, they just bond instantly," Kuyper said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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