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Guest Column

July 20, 2010

Mothers show greatest love of country

— Having recently attended the Rally for America sponsored by Steve Anderson in Sidney, one’s thoughts are fixed on God and country. This remarkable event spotlights the patriotism and sacrifice of our veterans. Our debt to them can never be paid.

And they ask not for payment, just for the respect they deserve or a simple “Thank You.” Is there a greater love of country?


Never to minimize the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fight and die for our freedoms and defense, may I pose this question: Is it not a greater love of country to send those, to whom you have given birth, off to war?

Young, immortal, so full of life and promise, her son joins the military.

“Don’t worry, Ma. Nothing is going to happen to me,” he says.

But Mom knows bad things can happen.

“Don’t worry, Ma.” Really?

She wouldn’t be a mother if she didn’t.

It’s part of the package. A mother can only wait and pray. Will her “baby” ever come home or will he be killed or injured in some distant forsaken land? Again, is there a greater love of country than that of the veteran? If so, it is the American Mother. Let me tell you the story of one.

Anne Gibbons was born in Ireland during the 1800s and married an Irish patriot named Tom Cosgrove. The Irish Revolution was raging. Tom and his fellow patriots were wanted men, and they were losing the war. He sent Anne to a small town in western New York. Some family lived there, and he knew she would be safe. He would follow in six months.

According to Anne, her husband was “a poor judge of time.” Eighteen months passed; no mail left Ireland. Anne could only pray that he was still alive. One Sunday there was a knock on the door. It was Tom. He was very thin. He had been shot and also run through by a sword, but mended. They spent the day in each other’s arms. Their fighting days were over, or so they thought.

Three weeks later, Tom was conscripted into the U.S. Marine Corps. We were at war with Spain. Their family days would have to wait. They had fought for Ireland, and now they would fight for America. Anne held her tears until Tom’s train had left. She didn’t want to appear weak.

The Spanish-American War was a short war, but Tom had been sent to the Philippines and then to China to suppress the Boxer Rebellion.

The only news was from the local newspaper. She awaited Tom’s next letter, knowing that as of that date, he was still alive. If a stranger traveled through the neighborhood or there was a knock at the door, a feeling of dread would come over her. Was it the news she feared?

Two years passed slowly. Then on another Sunday, she saw a Marine walking into the neighborhood. Tom was home and this time for good. He was still very thin, but Anne knew “she could fatten him up.” He suffered from malaria, and that would eventually take his life, but not before they had eight children.

Life was good. Tom worked hard, and Anne presented him with three sons and five daughters. Most were grown when Tom died of a malaria attack in 1937. But, as families do, those that could got jobs and saw to it that all payments were made, and there was food on the table.

Then came Dec. 7, 1941, and America was at war once again. Anne knew that young men must answer the call. Her beloved America was under attack, and she and her family would fight once again.

She saw her three sons go off to war.

Anne held her tears until the boys’ buses had left. She didn’t want to appear weak. Tom, the middle and largest son at 6 feet 4 inches, was a brawler and didn’t follow any rules but his own. As she said, “The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.” She worried about him the most.

Anne and her five daughters read the papers, listened to a neighbor’s radio, and watched the newsreels before the movie in the local theater, all the time waiting for letters and news about the boys. Every time a strange vehicle drove through the neighborhood or there was a knock at the door, Anne prayed it wasn’t the news she dreaded.

The night the war ended and she knew her sons were safe, Anne’s oldest daughter saw her crying. She said: “Why are you crying, Ma? The boys are coming home!” Anne replied, “I’m thinking about all those mothers who will never see their sons again.”

Her sons returned, her children married, and Anne had 12 grandchildren to keep her busy. She joined her Marine, Tom, in 1965.

Is there a greater love of country? I think not. Rest in peace, Grandma. CHUCK PINKEY is the owner of River Valley New Holland Inc. in Otego. He can be reached at truck.

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