Gold Star Mothers Sharing stories of fallen heroes

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Linda Jenkin Costanzo, who has written a book about Gold Star Mothers, will be part of the week-long celebration of the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall. The wall will be in National June 29-July 5.

By Pat McTaggart

Freelance Writer


As part of the “Moving Wall” Vietnam Veterans tribute, which will take place at the Clayton County Fairgrounds at National from June 30-July 5, author Linda Jenkin Costanzo will speak at a 2 p.m. ceremony July 2.

Before the ceremony, Costanzo will have a book signing at 10 a.m. at the Corner Café and Coffee Shop 107 S. Main St., in Garnavillo. She will also have two other author presentations and book signings in Guttenberg before July 2.  On Wednesday, June 29th, she will be at from The Creativity Center, 214 S. River Park Drive from 5-7 p.m. The second event will be held on June 30 beginning at 7 p.m. at River Park Place, 302 South River Park Drive.

Costanzo’s book, “Our Sons, Our Heroes – Memories Shared by Gold Star Mothers from the Vietnam War,” is the culmination of 13 years of travel, research and interviewing gold Star Mothers who lost their sons during the war.

The inspiration for the book came from Constanzo’s own deeply moving visit to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. “I looked at the seas of names and I said ‘My word. Behind every name is a mother and a father,’” she said.  “I walked away and nothing seemed to surface until the year 2000.”

Things changed that year when she met a woman at the Theatre of Youth in Buffalo, N.Y.  The woman told her the story of her son, who had died in Vietnam.

 “For a moment, time totally reversed,” Costanzo said.  “My eyes were opened that minute in 2000  I wondered what happened to the women who had lost their children during wartime.”

Placing an ad in the Vietnam Veterans of America newspaper, Costanzo began receiving letters from mothers across the country. After 13 years of research and writing, she finally published her book.

The book runs the full gambit of 16 interviewed mothers’ emotions. They talk about their sons growing up, going off to war and hearing the feared “knock on the door,” with a service representative standing on the other side waiting to tell the mother that her son had been killed. They also talk about the aftermath of that shattering event – coping with the loss while anti-war protesters held rallies and mocked service personnel and how they finally reconciled and accepted what had happened.

“I knew before the end of my first interview that I had to write a book about stories never told,” she said. “I never gave up. I knew mothers were counting on me to write their story because they fear our country will someday forget the sacrifice these young men made in Vietnam.  We enter life as ordinary people.  What makes some people extraordinary is how they weather the tragedies, keep their faith and sense of humor and yet, they still smile when the day is over.  That’s a good lesson for me.”

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