"When your children leave, a part of your heart leaves," said Sherry Warner, a mother whose daughter and son-in-law are in the Army.
So it was particularly special, Warner said, for the White House to honor military mothers yesterday during a special Mother's Day tea hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.
Warner was among 180 guests who attended the White House event, which featured musical guest Ben Folds and included military members from all service branches, military children, military spouses, Gold Star mothers, and caregivers of wounded warriors.
The tea was a wonderful way for the White House to show its deep appreciation for all that military moms do, Warner said.
It was particularly moving seeing a Gold Star mother, she said.
"You just start tearing up and you can't even imagine her pain,” Warner said. “It just gets to you."
A Family Affair
Warner, who attended the event with her daughter, Army Maj. Robin Johnson, said soldiers are the best of society and chose to serve.
“They’re not like the rest of us,” Warner said. “They’re extremely brave. They’re extremely courageous. They are selfless.”
Obama thanked the military moms for their commitment. They face many challenges, she said, including separation from loved ones, career demands, frequent moves and job changes.
In the midst of everything, whether they are in the service themselves or their loved ones are, military moms always find time to give back to their communities, Obama said.
“You give us energy. You give us strength. You give us focus and purpose,” Obama said of military moms. The White House tea, she said, is a way to say thanks for everything that military moms do.
Biden’s son, Beau, is a major in the Delaware Army National Guard and an Iraq veteran.
“And I want you to know just how much we appreciate everything your families do in serving our country, Biden said at the White House tea. “We ask a lot of our military families, and I believe that each of us -- no matter where we live, no matter whether we’re connected to military ourselves -- all of us should make our best efforts to show our military spouses, kids, siblings and parents how much we appreciate their service and their sacrifice.”
Also in attendance was Johnson’s mother-in-law, Kathy Johnson, who said it was a great event she’ll always remember.
“It was wonderful to hear from Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden -- that they really understand that the families do have a loss” when loved ones deploy, she said.
Support for Military Families
Michele Bajakian has made many family moves and experienced the impact of deployments over her 17 years as a military spouse.
"One of the many things that I appreciate about Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden is they have been strong advocates for our military families and they recognize military spouses -- and military service member moms do go through a lot," she said.
"It's not an easy lifestyle," said Bajakian, who attended the event with her daughter Hannah, and military friend Patricia Eassa, who has been an Army spouse for 25 years.
"It was so nice to be in the White House, and be with friends and other service families and service spouses and know that we're all one big family," Eassa said.
Obama and Biden greeted the military children who were talking with the White House chefs and doing Mother's Day craft projects.
Hannah said she enjoyed her time at the White House.
"It was a lot of fun to be able to meet some of the chefs who are in the White House and to be able to talk to Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden in person,” she said. “It was very nice meeting them.”
Hannah and the other military children swapped tales of moves and where they had been stationed.
"It was really nice because as military kids, we know what it's like to move around,” Hannah said, “and we just kind of connect easier and we were able to make friends there just in a short amount of time that we had there.”