- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

Mothers whose sons and daughters served and sacrificed in the nation’s military conflicts were honored yesterday at a special Mother’s Day ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

About two dozen military mothers, all dressed in white, were each given a long-stemmed pink rose and a Mother’s Day card handmade by children from across the country.

“You are special,” read the message in one brightly decorated card. “God could not be everywhere so He made mothers.”

Yesterday marked the sixth year of the Mother’s Day at the Wall ceremony.

Girl Scouts from the D.C. area presented the cards to the mothers, most of whom are members of the American War Mothers, an organization for women whose children have served in the armed forces.

During the early morning ceremony yesterday, the mothers read the cards out loud before placing them in different spots at the base of the Wall.

Ann Herd, 77, of Dallas, said her son, Ronald Ward Herd, died in Vietnam. His name is inscribed on panel 8W, line 85, on the Wall.

“Before he left for Vietnam, he asked me to come into his room,” she told the dozens of persons who attended the ceremony. “He gave me instructions on what his father and I should do if he didn’t come back. He said, ‘Do not grieve and ruin your health.’”

As a way of honoring his wishes, Mrs. Herd joined the American Gold Star Mothers in the late 1990s and became the organization’s national president in July. Her job brings her to Washington several times a year. She tries to find time during each trip to visit the Wall and see her son’s name.

“I like to come down here by myself sometimes,” Mrs. Herd said. “There’s something about that Wall; you feel love and the closeness of the veterans.”

For the Girl Scouts, the ceremony was a chance to honor the mothers and witness a part of history.

“They love history and enjoy reading about it a lot,” said Ashleigh Shipe, 44, whose daughters Marin, 11, and Mallory, 10, took part in the ceremony. “Being here is a chance to see history and the mothers who were a part of it. I think they were surprised how many mothers were here and how many had lost sons.”

Marin echoed her mother’s sentiments. “It is very touching to see [the mothers] coming here today,” she said. “We wanted to thank them for what they did.”

Many of the handmade cards thanked war mothers who gave up their sons for their country.

“My relatives have lost a loved one,” a message in one card read. “There really is no greater sacrifice than giving your life for your country.”

“Thank you for sharing your loved one with America,” read another. Many of the cards were not signed.

Although each mother at the event received, read and placed one or two cards against the Wall, the Girl Scouts still had a box full of handmade cards left to place along the memorial after the ceremony was over.

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