Gold Star Mothers continue the service of their fallen children
Maryland chapter, revived during decade of war, dedicate themselves to active duty personnel, veterans
By Matthew Hay Brown
The Baltimore Sun
May 12, 2012
BETHESDA — A mother arrives at the Red Cross office at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on a mission for her son, a 23-year-old soldier and double amputee. He needs a back scratcher.
With her bright eyes and wide smile, volunteer Janice Chance gives her that and more — a reassuring rub on the arm and an offer to do anything else she can for the soldier, who is visiting the hospital for tests.
In a sense, Chance is here for her own son, too.
Marine Capt. Jesse Melton III, the oldest of Chance's three children, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2008. Soon after his death, the Owings Mills woman began volunteering with the Red Cross at Walter Reed and in the emergency room at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Chance is one of 50 Maryland mothers who are honoring the memory of their fallen sons and daughters by tending to the needs of those still fighting, the wounded and the veterans.
Together, they have revived the long-dormant state chapter of the American Gold Star Mothers, a service organization made up exclusively of women who have lost children in the military.
Founded after World War I and widely recognized during World War II, the American Gold Star Mothers had been dwindling for decades. Now the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought a new generation of women to the organization.
Maryland is one of several states seeing a revival. Nationally, the organization now counts 2,000 women as members.
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