"Oh, we never complain about the heat," said Martha Padilla of Modesto, the mother of 21-year old Cpl. Vicente Padilla, who is serving in Iraq. "My son calls and says 'it's 137 degrees out there.' So I can never complain."
Padilla recalls how anxious she was when her son declared that he was joining the Army.
"When he left for Afghanistan in November, 2004, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't work. I was just waiting for his phone calls," she said. "Now he's in Iraq; it's worse because it's more dangerous. He's out there with a small unit. Twelve in his unit have been killed; five of them were his best friends."
Marie Bonilla, the mother of Lance Cpl. Anthony Vidales, came from Los Angeles to support her fellow war mothers.
"I raised my son, teaching him to do the right thing. He has seen me do things for others. When I asked him not to join the military, he said, 'Mom, how can you tell me not to do what I feel is right?'" Bonilla said as tears streamed down her face.
Though she still struggles with her son's absence, Bonilla supports him and the troops 100 percent.
"I make high-end hotel pillows, and I sent his whole platoon fluffy down pillows so they can have something to rest their heads on no matter what. I also have sent him 10 boxes of candy, movies, socks - anything he needs."
The picnic-rally was capped by a screening of the film "My Child: Mothers of War," directed by Angeliki Giannakopoulos. Three of the 14 mothers in the film are from Antioch: Suzanne Nocco, Josie Monaghan and Virginia Morton.
"I was inspired by reading the parents' stories. I knew what I had to do," said Giannakopoulos. "I started talking to the moms and finding out what they were going through. No matter what political position or race, or class, mothers were all together in their love for their children. And if there are over a million troops sent to Iraq, there are over a million mothers plus fathers and families out there."
"My Child: Mothers of War" is Giannakopoulos' third documentary. She plans to translate these stories into a stage play, featuring the actual monologues of the mothers.
"We are working on a grassroots level. We are hoping the message gets out to the public," she said. "We wish to create a dialogue between people to unite on the basis of their love for their children."
The war mothers also want to send a message of support.
"Give your kids lots of love and positive feedback while they are away," said Padilla. "Send them everything they need - socks, underwear, comfort food - because the military can't provide everything."
The grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch were passed out by the Blue Star Riders, who also passed out a memorial torch for fallen and wounded soldiers.
Mayor Don Freitas attended the picnic-rally and delivered a message recognizing and thanking the mothers for their stories, even though the topic of war is controversial.
City Councilman Jim Davis summed it up for the war mothers when he said, "We want it over, and we want it over soon!"