Monday May 20, 2013
A Morning of Grace, Spirit, Hope, and Endless CaringLesli Moore Dahlke Salem-News.com
The beauty and strength of American women; the Gold Star Wives of America Inc.
(LOS ANGELES) - On April 21, 2012, I was very fortunate to be the guest of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. during their 64th Annual South West Region Conference held in Santa Barbara, California. This year most graciously hosted by the Channel Islands Chapter. The Gold Star Wives are an organization of widows and widowers whose spouses died while on active duty in the military services or as the result of a military service connected cause.
I walked into a room filled with strangers. They did not know me, or my story as a USO volunteer in Vietnam during the 1970 Christmas season, bringing a bit of home to our troops during a time of active war. Most were unaware of this possible connection to their own lives.
I spoke briefly about the hope, spirit and strength of women. How strong we women are and what we are capable of doing —wherever, and whatever challenges are placed before us. Whether the obstacle is small or stupendous. Whether it is enormous or insurmountable. Women can handle it!
Every woman there was warm and welcoming. Their arms and hearts were open to me standing up there in front of them.
I was enormously surprised and proud of the Honor they presented to me for my service, and bringing a bit of home with our brave troops in Vietnam during the War.
I am humbled and very proud by this wonderful honor.
Afterwards, many of the members came over to share with me their experiences of the loss of their loved ones. All openly offered me their friendship, prayers, thoughts, and own strength on the continuing journey I am on, as I deal with my Agent Orange cancers developed as a result of my visit to Vietnam.
At the conference that morning, filled with those strong women, I felt an honesty and passion for their commitment and dedication to their mission. It was a wonderful, heartfelt morning.
Gold Star Wives was organized in 1945 by the war widows of World War II. It is a Congressional chartered, non-profit organization. First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, known for her own strength and dedication, signed the original GSW incorporation papers.
GSW has approximately 10,000 members throughout 8 US regions and 53 chapters located in 26 states. Once a year this fine organization holds a National Convention of their members.
The primary mission of GSW is to provide service, support and friendship to the widows and widowers of military personnel who died on active duty or as the result of a service connected cause.
They assist widows and widowers in understanding and obtaining the benefits provided by Congress. Working to improve and enhance the benefits widows and widowers receive.
This is truly a service organization.
These are the “formal words” of the organization. Not the genuine heart and soul of the women I shared a brief morning with. The morning will always be a memorable life experience for me. It will have a place in my heart with a bright shining light that will stay within my memories always.
As I left the Conference, the room was no longer filled with strangers. Now, it was filled with warm, and giving friends — openly sharing their strength and hope.
It is a day I will long remember and warmly cherish!
Thank you, Ladies, one and all.
Lesli Moore Dahlke is a Salem-News.com Contributor based in Los Angeles who was born and raised in the Golden State of California. She describes herself as a child of the 50’s, growing up in the same place she has always lived- the San Fernando Valley, which is a vast suburb of Los Angeles, where her father Del Moore was a noted television and movie actor.
Lesli studied journalism and recieved a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Television and Film Production from California State University Northridge. Her credits include commercial film production, numerous areas of television production; including producing live sports programming, documentaries for The Discovery Channel, PBS Network programming and Telecourse, as well as producing the first series for the Playboy Channel and various other ventures. Her experiences were vast, challenging and never routine, yet Lesli’s most challenging experiences were yet to come, with the diagnoses of two virulent cancers caused by her exposure to Agent Orange while with the USO as an innocent 18-year old girl. Send Lesli an email ad this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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