Mothers Bound Together by the Cost of War

Paula Davis, Gina Barnhurst and Beth Belle are charter members of a club no mother ever wants to join.

These women and others meet informally at Arlington National Cemetery. There, they sit at the gravesides of their sons who were killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. They also talk with each other. And cry. And listen.

They call themselves Section 60 Mothers, after the section at Arlington that holds the fresh graves of men and women killed in America's current wars. The group meets roughly every week now, with the help of an e-mail list.

But it's their deep wounds, they say, that have linked them together with deep bonds.

Amid Arlington's quiet, and its white headstones that stretch to the horizon, grieving mothers have built small shrines to their sons. There are ribbons in the trees and photographs leaning up against the stones.

But the cemetery is considered hallowed ground, and technically those shrines are against the rules at the cemetery.

Groundskeepers take them down every time they pass through. The mothers put them right back up. They come every week.

We've asked six Section 60 Mothers to describe their experience. Each of them has gone through the worst thing that could ever happen to a parent. And yet, as one mother told us, they lean on each other: "It's quite a family we have at Arlington."



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.