Psalm 91, also called the Soldier's Prayer, is written on the pieces of camouflaged cloth. Mary Gray said she saw the bandannas online last fall and wanted to send them to as many troops as possible.
"What better thing to send them than a piece of God's armor to actually put on with their existing armor?" Gray said. "When you look at the bandannas, I don't want people to see just the words on a cloth. I want them to see the soldier who's going to receive it in his hand."
Her husband, Eastland Gray, spent 20 years in the Army. Their two sons are on active duty: Capt. Andrew Gray is stationed in Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and Maj. Robert Gray is a member of the Special Forces who has done three tours of duty in Iraq and is now stationed at Fort Bragg.
Gray ordered 24,000 of the bandannas from Dream Creations Inc., and a group of volunteers gathers at Village Baptist Church every Thursday to fold them, pray over them and seal them for delivery.
She recalls how one soldier who suffered an injury in a rocket explosion in Iraq used two of the Psalm 91 bandannas as tourniquets.
"As he read the words, he received a lot of comfort as he was recovering from his injuries," she said. "He said he kept the two bandannas tied together, right next to him in the hospital.”
Some soldiers have become inseparable from their bandannas, she said. “Another soldier said he never went anywhere without it being right under his hat,” she said.
Volunteers pay for the bandannas with donations, and Gray has received requests for them from churches nationwide. She said she expects the effort to take off, with bandannas going to all branches of the military.
As part of the effort, Mary Owen writes letters to the troops who receive the bandannas.
"I just kind of see in my mind's eye and in my heart somebody else's grandson or granddaughter there," Owen said.
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