“The President of the United States asked my mother, Margaret Pharris Hohnhorst, to dedicate the Punchbowl National Cemetery in Hawaii. Mother flew to Oahu, providing the leadership as the National American War Mothers President,” Earl Pharris of Cozad said.
“The President was Lyndon B. Johnson. The year was 1966. Mother represented our country at many major events, such as laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that is at the Arlington National Cemetery.
“It was, at the second ceremony, Washington D.C., that she addressed the National World Peace Foundation. At that event, she presented the ‘Distinguished Service Award in the Cause of National Security’ to General John P. McConnell, Chief of Staff, United States Air Force. The citation honored the 1965 “Christmas Star” Airlift to Vietnam.
“Our family has always been proud of Mother’s accomplishments, with her beginning her National Presidency in 1965,” Earl said. Before that major assignment, she had served in a myriad of leadership roles, including President of the Young Women’s Christian Association, the Republican Women’s Club, charter member of the Canyonside Club, Daughters of the American Revolution and various capacities in the United presbyterian Women’s Association.
So, one can turn back the calendar to 1896, in the town of Marysville, Kansas, where Margaret Adams was born. Form there, the family moved to Missouri and then “drew a homestead” in Jerome, Idaho. It was there that Margaret met Guy Pharris, they fell in love and were married in 1915.
They were the parents of six children, with their livelihood involved in farming and raising sheep. In 1932, Guy passed away due to appendicitis. For Margaret, a young widow, fortitude and determination would be her forte. And, regarding good fortune, she met Charles Hohnhost, who had recently lost his wife.
Again, the story is that they met, fell in love and were married in 1936. Charles had five children, all of whom were grown, except for one. In the Pharris family, there were three children still in school.
“Charles was good to all of us children,” Earl said. “For me, education was important, which was true for all of my siblings. A major historical event that impacted our family was the beginning of World War II on December 7th, 1941.
“The chronology reveals why Mother was named a Gold Star Mother, serving as President in 1949, which undergirded her desire to serve on the national level,” expressed Earl.
“My brother John was on a Troop Transport, headed to Europe, when his ship was bombed and John was killed.
“My brother Henry was a bookkeeper on Midway Island, serving in the Air Force as a navigator and seeing action in Italy.
“My oldest step-brother was Colonel Henry Hohnhorst, a member of the National Guard, assigned to the South Pacific.
“Tom Hohnhorst, the youngest step-brother, joined the United States Armored Division, serving under General Patton.”
When the TWIN FALLS TIMES-NEWS published the story about Margaret being elected President of the National American War Mothers, what was referenced was “bringing recognition to Idaho and Magic Valley.”
It is noted that there must have been “Magic” in the Valley, protraying the high levels of dedication to family, church, community and nation.
“My mother was always caring about others, whether it was delivering food to a family, saying a prayer for the needy or addressing a national forum. I went back to Washington D.C. with my children, to retrace some of her footprints. I also walked on the rim of the Punchbowl in Hawaii, visualizing the ‘Hill of Sacrifice’.”
“I have walked, where she has walked. I have stood, where she has stood. Her footprints are a rich legacy, for our family, but moreso, for our nation,” expressed Earl. “I extend my gratitude to all who make a difference.”