American War Mothers try to recruit more members

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Kate Hearn national president of American War Mothers, left, shakes the hand of Lloyd LePlant resident at Missouri Veterans Home in Cape Girardeau. Nelda Bleckler state president of the organization, is flanked by Rusby Adams resident, left, and Ken LippsSoutheast Missourian

Officials from American War Mothers have been touring veterans hospitals in Missouri, including the Missouri Veterans Home in Cape Girardeau, in order to strengthen the group's membership.

In addition to the veterans home, Nelda Bleckler, state president of American War Mothers, and national president Kate Hearn visited VFW Post 3838 in Cape Girardeau.

The American War Mothers, a perpetual patriotic organization, was established on Sept. 29, 1917. At that time membership was limited to mothers whose children served in the armed forces between April 6, 1917, and Nov. 11, 1918, during World War I.

With the onset of World War II, Congress was petitioned to amend the charter to include mothers whose children served in that war. Membership is now limited to women who are are U.S. citizens whose children served in the U.S. military or with Allied forces in WWI, WWII, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts and subsequent wars or conflicts involving the United States who have an honorable discharge from service or are still in service. If adopted, the children must have been adopted before their 5th birthday; if stepchildren, they must have become stepchildren before their 12th birthday.

A chapter needs only 10 members to start. The state and national presidents will provide help to any interested women to get a chapter started. Call Bleckler at (573) 431-7971 for more information.

"What could be any closer to our servicemen and women than a mother? Spouses may run off, but a mother's love never dies," Hearn said. "Jesus gives us our heavenly freedom, but our children are what give us our earthly freedom to do and say and eat and play. We need that freedom more than we can say or express just how important it is."

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