Bittersweet blessing

Mandaree mother named Gold Star Mother of the Year

Jill Schramm/MDN Gold Star Mother Harriet Goodiron, left, awaits the award of her 2018 Gold Star Mother of the Year plaque with 2017 Gold Star Mother of the Year Arlene Berdahl, right, during a ceremony Monday in Minot.

Harriet Goodiron’s service to veterans despite her personal pain speaks to her heart and character, according to the tribal chairman who shared in honoring her as 2018 Gold Star Mother of the Year Monday in Minot.

Goodiron, of Mandaree, was recognized at the 2nd Annual Gold Star Mothers and Family Day hosted by the Minot American Legion Auxiliary Unit No. 26. Goodiron has been a Gold Star Mother since 2006 when her son, Army Cpl. Nathan Goodiron, died while on active-duty in Afghanistan.

A mother who lost her son in World War I had been instrumental in founding the Gold Star Mothers, a national support organization, in 1928.

At Monday’s ceremony, Mark Fox, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, spoke with respect for Goodiron’s contributions.

“Whenever she’s called on, she always stepped forward. Whenever we went to an event to recognize veterans, she’s right there. Yet she has that heavy heart, knowing her son gave up his life for this country,” Fox said.

Fox noted Native Americans have served their country in a higher proportion than any other race – a point he made to President Trump during a recent trip to Washington.

Fox said he knows no way to respond to Goodiron’s sacrifice but to give her a hug and tell her how proud he is that she is getting deserved recognition. To hug Goodiron is to thank “a very beautiful and strong person who has enough heart to do things for others despite her pain,” he said.

Goodiron is active with the Myron B. Johnson-Nathan J. Goodiron American Legion Post 271 of Mandaree. Myron B. Johnson, also of Mandaree, died in Vietnam. Nathan Goodiron’s name was added to the post’s name in 2006, joining his uncle’s name.

Harriet Goodiron received a plaque and a crown placed by 2017 Gold Star Mother of the Year Arlene Berdahl of Minot. Berdahl’s son, David, died in Vietnam in 1972 and remains missing. Richard Reuer of the Minot American Legion crocheted a commemorative shawl to present to Goodiron.

“This day is not mine. It’s for my son and those who have passed on in the line of duty,” Goodirion said.

She also acknowledged the volunteers of the local American Legion posts who continue to remember fallen soldiers and offered gratitude for their recognition of Gold Star Mothers.

“Thanks for this beautiful day – this bittersweet moment you have blessed me with,” she said.

The American Legion Post No. 26 Color Guard posted colors, and Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma read the Gold Star Mothers and Family Day proclamation. Jeannie Roman, Minot, president of the North Dakota Department Auxiliary, presented the award plaque.

Goodiron received a congratulatory letter from Becky Christmas, national president of American Gold Star Mothers.

“It’s not easy to continue with our own lives once we lose a child but losing a child in military service also carries the weight of honoring the service of our children,” she wrote. “We want our children to be remembered and we want to say their names.”

Christmas wrote that events such as the one hosted by the Minot Legion Auxiliary keep the sacrifice of fallen heroes and their families in the hearts of the nation. She thanked Goodiron for her wonderful example of a Gold Star Mother and her activities with the American Legion.