CHICAGO (CBS) — Ten Illinois women whose children were killed in combat were honored with Gold Star banners for their losses over the weekend at the Chicago Cultural Center.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports, the ceremony was held on Gold Star Mother’s Day, and was sponsored partly by the USO of Illlinois.

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LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports

Mothers wiped away tears as they listened to Erica Borggren, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, talk about a letter she wrote her son when she went off to war. It was the just-in-case-I don’t-return-home letter.

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“It ripped my heart in two, and that was just writing it,” Borggren said. “Here, sitting in front of me, are mothers who actually received that letter. I think it’s really hard for any of us to fathom what that feels like.”

Presenting Gold Stars to mothers is a tradition that dates to the end of World War I when President Woodrow Wilson suggested black arm bands with gold stars instead of traditional black mourning clothing be worn by families of fallen servicemen.

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