‘All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother’

  • Published
  • By Col. Gary Goldstone
  • 375th Airlift Wing commander
"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother" are the famous words by Abraham Lincoln about his mother, Nancy (Hanks) Lincoln, who died when he was 9 years old. 

Though he knew her for such a short time, it is said that he remembered her for her warm affection and example. In that short time, she fused a solid foundation for how President Lincoln would treat both sides of the brutal civil war--with fairness, without judgment and in a way that ultimately bridged the gap between the two sides. 

His father remarried a year later to Sarah Bush Johnstone, a widow with three young children. The epitome of a blended family, she formed the Lincoln household into one strong unit, and her homemaking skills and ability to organize had a profound effect on young Abraham. 

President Lincoln often spoke of Nancy's traits--ambition, mental alertness and power of analysis--and Sarah's ability to provide love after the loss of his mother, as well as constant motivation to excel in sports, school and other aspects of his life. Those powerful elements combined to form many of the traits he would be known for as well. 

I, too have an angel mother who provided for me and my brothers during life's many challenges. Simply put, my mom has always "been there" and always put us first! Although I have told her many times, my mom may never know how much she has done to shape, mold and make me the person I am today. I owe my mom more than words could ever capture. 

I also pay tribute to the angel mother of my children. My wife, Mary, mother to Garrett and Danielle, is the rock-solid foundation of our family. Through many deployments, moves and challenges associated with military life, my wife, their mom, has earned every possible decoration we could ever bestow upon a hero. Their mom represents ALL military moms ... the true heroes who deserve the respect and admiration of an entire nation. 

No matter what responsibilities we have with our military missions--nuclear, airlift, rescue--we are all affected in some way by what our mothers taught us. It's true that one good mother is better than 100 schoolmasters. We can shape and mold our Airmen into disciplined warriors, but their very core was framed years ago by a mother. For some of us that mother was a grandmother, or aunt or other maternal figure in our life. It is our duty to recognize their gifts to us and to show appreciation for what they do on our behalf. 

An illustration of the effect of mothers is a story about a famed Civil War officer, Col. Thomas Higginson, who was asked what he considered the most remarkable incident of bravery. He told of a man, whom everyone liked--brave, noble, free of addictions to substances of which many during his time indulged. He said one night at a champagne dinner, where many were getting intoxicated, someone in jest called for a toast from this man. He arose and said: "Gentlemen, I will give you a toast which you may drink as you will, but which I will drink in water. The toast that I have to give is, 'Our mothers.'" Colonel Higginson relates that the men drank the toast in silence. There was no more laughter, no more song, and one by one they left the room. "The lamp of memory had begun to burn, and the name of Mother touched every man's heart." 

We are never too tough, or too old, to be touched by memories of mother. When deployed, I've encouraged my Airmen to call their mothers and wives many times. It's important to let them know we're OK, and in most cases they just want to hear our voice. 

It's no different for us here at home. Let's be grateful we have those memories and show our appreciation to mom with a card, a call, a letter of thanks or personal visit. And more importantly, let's make sure our mothers would be proud of our actions as we serve our nation today and always.