- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2001

Jeanne Penfold hugged her eldest son, Peter, for the last time in May of 1967 before he was sent overseas to fight as a Marine in the Vietnam War.
Yesterday, Mrs. Penfold, 78, traveled to Washington, almost 34 years to the day since she last saw her son, to lay a Mothers Day card at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, at the foot of panel No. 28E, where his name is etched on line 29.
It was a card Mrs. Penfold and dozens of other mothers of Vietnam veterans received at a special Mothers Day ceremony sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
The cards were made by local schoolchildren who wrote messages of love and support to the elderly women whose children served or died in the war.
"I know my son is looking down on me and I know hes with me all the time," said Mrs. Penfold, of New York, as she reached up to touch her sons name on the wall.
"But the card I got meant the world to me," she said as her eyes welled up with tears. "It really touched my heart."
Wearing white dresses, the 30 mothers stood a few feet away from the wall yesterday morning as each of them received a long-stemmed pink rose and a card that contained a personal message inside.
"Happy Mothers Day," one card read. "God, please watch this mother everywhere she goes."
"To a very special mother who lost a very special child," read another. "Dont be sad because your child will always be watching over you."
"Were here to honor the mothers whose love for their children created the resolve these soldiers had when they went to fight for our country," said U.S. Senator Craig Thomas, Wyoming Republican, who attended yesterdays ceremony. "Were here to honor the mothers and their children, who both are our heroes."
Jan Scruggs, the memorial funds founder and president, said yesterdays ceremony was about remembering the women and their families who were affected by the war. The mothers were members of American War Mothers, Blue Star Mothers of America Inc., and American Gold Star Mothers Inc.
He said the organization sent letters to principals of local public elementary schools, encouraging their students to pay tribute to the mothers of the veterans. As a result, the fund received more than 500 cards for the second annual ceremony.
The cards will become part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Archives, Mr. Scruggs said.
After the brief ceremony, the mothers walked to the black granite wall and placed the cards at the foot of the panels before thanking some of the children who paid tribute to them.
"Its a great gift to receive on a day like today," said Millie Baker, of Laurel, whose son, Fred, was among the soldiers who returned home after the war. "Getting these cards and all of us being together on Mothers Day shows to the mothers who lost their children that theyre not alone."
Members of Girl Scout Troop No. 600 from Gaithersburg said they attended yesterdays ceremony to show their support for the mothers.
"We wanted to let them know that we admire them for coming here and for loving their sons and daughters who fought in the war," said Mary Clapp, 14, of Gaithersburg, who was one of the Girl Scouts who gave each mother a rose.
Mrs. Penfold slowly made her way along the brick path before stopping at the panel that bears her sons name. She stood on the tips of her shoes to touch his name.
Peter A. Penfold was 20 when he was killed on Oct. 17, 1967, by a snipers bullet in Quang Tri, a few miles north of Hue in Vietnam. He had risen to the rank of lance corporal before his death.
"He was so happy to be a Marine," Mrs. Penfold said, clutching the pink rose. "We are so proud of him."
So is the student whose card was given to Mrs. Penfold at the ceremony. "Your son is too good to be forgotten. Have a good Mothers Day."
The schools that sent cards to the mothers were Apple Grove Elementary and Fort Washington Forest Elementary, in Fort Washington; Bolimar Bridge Elementary in Jessup, Md.; Bond Mill Elementary in Laurel; Bradley Hills Elementary in Bethesda; Crofton Meadows Elementary in Crofton; John E. Howard Elementary in Capitol Heights; Little Run Elementary in Fairfax; Princeton Elementary in Camp Springs; Ross Elementary and Shepherd Elementary in the District; Springhill Elementary in Greenbelt; Waugh Chapel Elementary in Odenton, Md.; and Weyanoke Elementary in Alexandria.


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