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A military mother's duty

Michael Lechnar wrote home from Iraq with one request: He wanted his folks to send him a golf towel.


Blue Star Mothers helps local moms aid their children overseas

By Kristi O'Harran
Herald Columnist

Michael Lechnar wrote home from Iraq with one request: He wanted his folks to send him a golf towel.

He isn't working on his long ball during the war. He wants the towel with a ring to hang on a belt to wipe his sweating brow in the scorching desert heat. His parents, Michael and Linda Lechnar of Mukilteo, were only too happy to oblige.

Supporting their son in the U.S. Marine Corps is a family focus these days. So much so that Linda Lechnar is one of a handful of women who recently formed a state chapter of Blue Star Mothers, a group that helps sons and daughters in the military during times of war.

Blue Star Mothers are the lucky ones. If their child dies in a war, they have the dubious honor of being able to join the Gold Star Mothers, who have lost a child in the service of their country.

The Blue Star group meets Saturday and would love to see new faces. The meeting is at 1 p.m. at American Legion Post No. 2, 11204 Park Ave. S., Tacoma. For more information, call 253-536-6999 or go to http://wabluestarmothers.org.

In February 1942, 300 mothers met in the Durant Hotel in Flint, Mich., to discuss forming Blue Star Mothers. Chapters formed around the country. In 1960, the organization was chartered by Congress.

The aim of the group is to support active-duty service personnel, promote patriotism, assist veterans organizations and pitch in as homeland volunteers to keep the country strong.

Little more than a year ago, the Lechnars never dreamed they'd have a child in the military. But, Michael Lechnar said, just 40 credits short of a degree at Washington State University, his son felt the tug of patriotism.

"He did not enlist out of economic necessity or the desire for some direction or discipline," his father said. "He was three semesters away from completing his degree at WSU when he decided that duty was more important."

The Kamiak High School graduate joined the U.S. Marine Corps and is stationed in Iraq.

His mother, understandably, worries. Sending him care packages is one way to offer support, but when she heard about the Blue Star Mothers forming, she got right on board.

"It's nice to know others are in the same situation," Linda Lechnar said. "We want people to know we now have a chapter."

Before her son shipped overseas, his mother read news accounts of the war. She would shed tears for families who had lost children in uniform. When she reads the paper now, her eyes dart to the word "Marine" before any other. Sometimes she wants to know everything going on in the Middle East; sometimes she can't take the news.

"It's a roller coaster," Linda Lechnar said. "It's got its ups and downs."

Focusing on the work of Blue Star Mothers is a way to cloak concern for children in any branch of the service. Blue Star Mothers hang a fabric star in living room windows to let the world know they support their sons and daughters in the military.

The group is packing Christmas packages on Saturday so they will arrive overseas in time for the holidays.

Busy hands ease worried hearts.

Columnist Kristi O'Harran: 425-339-3451 or oharran@ heraldnet.com