PASCO, Wash. - Mothers in the Tri-Cities who spent Memorial Day remembering their children who never came home from service now have a memorial to call their own. The Gold Star Mother Memorial was unveiled Monday at the City View Cemetery in Pasco.
Shirley Schmunk is a military mom and her son Jeremiah died serving in Iraq in 2004. As a mother, the bond with her child is strong even now that he is gone.
"As a mom, I know that for nine months he was my son and I didn't have to share him with anybody. Once he left the womb he became a citizen out there," she said.
As a citizen he made the choice to serve in the Army National Guard. On Monday, he and other military veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice were memorialized in the unveiling of the Gold Star Mother's Memorial.
"There's a lot more meaning into the word than just patriotic. They understand what it's all about. They've been there. They've done it, gone through it. And to come from this group of people it's a very honorable thing that they're doing for my son," she said.
The memorial is the first in the Tri-Cities and the first in Washington to have a remembrance plaque.
"To have a place where they can come and just think about their child and know that their community cares about them enough to bring this to them where they have a place to do that, I just think that means the world to them," said memorial organizer, Nancy McKee.
The mothers at Monday's ceremony all received gold flowers. One thing they all share in common is a love and pride for their proud soldiers.
"He died proud to be able to serve America," Shirley said.
The community contributed nearly $7,000 to build the memorial. The money spent on the official plaque will go toward a national effort to create a Gold Star Mother's Memorial in Washington D.C.