Guns and butter is one way to describe Americas current war footing. On the homefront, many citizens continue normal lives (the butter part) seemingly oblivious to Americas volunteer military in harms way on the frontlines of the War on Terrorism. And there are others protesting the wars mission, the president, or Americas globe-girdling commercial and military interests. Todays situation is more akin to the ignominious Vietnam eraa far cry from the unified homefront displayed at other moments of crisis in the nations past.
But for a lot of family members with sons and daughterseven husbands and wivesin uniform, the current war (really a post-war action) is an honorable cause; it is also a daily reminder of the challenges faced by loved ones in strange and violent places that appear hostile to freedom.
Enter Mary LoPinto of Vergennes. Her son Stephen LoPinto, a member of the Class of 2001 at Vergennes Union High School, spent 13 months in Iraq with the Vermont National Guard and the regular Army. Stephens mother spent sleepless nights wondering about his health and welfare. She often felt helpless in what she could do to keep up the morale of her soldier-son living so far from home.
Enter Soldiers Angels, an organization based in Pasadena, Calif. Mary discovered the morale-building group in 2002. In short order, it changed her lifeand the lives of othersfor the better. At last, she felt, she could do something to help her son and other men and women in uniform just like him.
According to LoPinto, Soldiers' Angels was started by an ordinary mom of an ordinary young man turned hero, Sgt. Brandon Varn. Brandon was deployed in Iraq and has since honorably completed his mission and has returned back to his proud and loving family. He wrote home expressing his concern that some soldiers did not receive any mail or support from home. Being a caring and loving mother, she decided not to allow a situation like that to continue. She contacted a few friends and extended family to ask if they would write to a soldier or two. Within a few months, Soldiers' Angels went from a mother writing a few extra letters to an Internet community with thousands of angels worldwide.