- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Cheryl Stallard's husband, Shaun, left Fort Bragg to fight the war in Iraq four months ago. So when it came time to celebrate Easter, Mrs. Stallard decided to spend the holiday at the White House.
Mrs. Stallard, 22, and two other military wives, Brandi Nedoroscik, 23, and Kristin Frodesen, 22, drove to the District from North Carolina on Easter Sunday so their children could take part in the annual Easter egg roll yesterday.
Their husbands, Sgt. Shaun Stallard, 22, Sgt. Jason Nedoroscik, 23, and Spc. Michael Frodesen, 24, are chemical specialists with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, a unit currently in Iraq.
The trip to Washington was "for us to get together and get away," said Mrs. Stallard, who is four months pregnant. Mrs. Nedoroscik brought her son, Jason, 2, and Mrs. Frodesen brought her daughters, Alexis, 3, and Makayla, 1, to the egg roll.
Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, hosted the scaled-down version of the annual Easter egg roll, which included about 12,000 parents and young children.
The occasion normally draws a crowd of about 40,000, but because of security concerns this year's tickets were distributed through the Defense Department exclusively to military families.
"All of you have dads and moms who have been defending America," Mrs. Cheney told the children. "We think your moms and dads are terrific."
President Bush, who hosted the previous two Easter egg rolls, was out of town. Mr. Bush spent Sunday in Texas attending Easter services at the Army base at Fort Hood and spending time with his family.
As the children sat on bales of hay, Mrs. Cheney thanked their moms and dads for fighting for freedom. "We are so grateful for your families and for the wonderful things they do for our country," Mrs. Cheney said, standing next to Mary Jo Myers and Lynne Pace, the wives of the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers and Marine Gen. Peter Pace.
Mrs. Cheney then blew a whistle to start the first official egg roll. Children flung colored eggs toward the finish line as their parents laughed. This year, the White House presented 5,400 painted hard-boiled eggs for the egg roll.
Army Lt. Gen. John LeMoyne, 59, who fought in Vietnam, Panama and the Persian Gulf war, walked slowly behind his two grandchildren as they rolled eggs on the freshly cut grass on the South Lawn.
"This is the special part of this," he said looking at Ashley, 5, and Jonathan, 2, who were visiting from Gainesville, Fla., with their parents James, 32, and Melisa LeMoyne, 31.
Mrs. LeMoyne tried to keep up with her children before they raced off for more fun and games. "I'm just so overjoyed to be here," she said.
Various Cabinet secretaries who were scattered across the lawn read to the children. Magicians, clowns and dozens of costume characters including Peter Rabbit, Arthur and Clifford the Big Red Dog greeted the children.
There were also stages with live music and children's shows, as well as a station where children and their parents could color eggs. About 3,600 eggs were cooked for children to decorate this year.
Children also received souvenir wooden eggs designed by Eric Carle, author and illustrator of children's books including "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."
The eggs, which came in pink, blue and green, were printed with the signatures of the president and first lady and an image of a bouncing, juggling bunny.
The embassies of several countries such as Afghanistan, Canada, India, Israel and Norway were present. The French and German embassies were not.
Gunnery Sgt. Richard Britten, a Marine stationed in the comptroller division at Quantico, Va., watched his wife, Sounida, 29, help daughters Victoria, 7 and Elizabeth, 1, color eggs. "I feel very privileged to see this from the inside of the gate rather than the outside," Sgt. Britten, 31, said.
Some parents also shared stories about how they have tried helping their children deal with the absence of their father or mother.
Christine McNulty's husband, Maj. Daniel McNulty, is an Air Force medical planner who was deployed to the Persian Gulf. Mrs. McNulty, 32, said she compared the crisis in Iraq with the Walt Disney movie "Aladdin" to help her children, Jacob, 6, and Briana, 1, understand why they haven't seen their father in weeks.
"I said that there's a bad guy like Jafar," said Mrs. McNulty, of Alexandria. "Daddy had to go and make sure the bad guy over there doesn't hurt anyone."
The White House egg roll has been a tradition since the mid-19th century. The celebration took place on the Capitol grounds until 1878, when it was moved to the White House by Lucy Hayes, wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes.
During World War II, the Easter egg roll was moved from the White House to the National Zoo.

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