Gold Medal Mother’s and Family Day is traditionally observed on the last Sunday of September, which falls on September 24 this year. The day is dedicated to honoring the families of those who have been awarded The Gold Star, the military honor no one desires. The award commemorates the tragic loss of a service member who died in the line of duty and is intended to provide some solace to the surviving parents and families. Since World War I, a “Gold Star Family” has signified a family in which a member was killed in combat. Each gold star on the flag represents a military family member who has perished from an honorable cause. Despite the fact that only about 1% of the population serves in the military today, compared to 12% during other wars such as World War II, there are still a significant number of Gold Star families – and a Gold Star carries on in a family’s legacy.
The background of Gold Star Mother’s and Family Day
Although the precise origins of the tradition are unknown, it was during World War I that the gold star came to represent a family member who had been killed in battle. In that era, the term “Gold Star Family” came to signify the surviving family members of a service member killed in action, and families hung banners with a gold star in front of their residences. The tradition has since been sanctioned and aims to comfort mothers and families while serving as a reminder that no one truly serves alone.
Gradually, there emerged a variety of methods for bereaved family members to honor their departed loved ones by wearing or placing symbols outside the home. In 1918, President Wilson authorized bereaved military mothers to don black armbands with gold stars. Soon after, it became permissible for families to cover the blue star on their service flag with a gilded one. Gold Star family members can also wear the Gold Star Lapel as of 1947.
The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. was founded in 1917 after the death of Grace Siebold’s son during World War 1. Grace, desiring to establish a support system for bereaved mothers in similar situations, convened what would become the American Gold Star Mothers to grieve together and care for hospitalized veterans. In 1928, the organization was incorporated as a non-profit with the goals of remembrance, education, and patriotism. They continue to assist Gold Star mothers with their grief, host an annual conference, and coordinate events with other support groups.
Although Gold Star Mother’s and Family Day is not observed as a National, federal holiday like Memorial Day, it was proclaimed by Congress in 1936 to be observed on the last Sunday of September; at the time, it was known as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.” In 2011, President Obama expanded the scope of the holiday to include families in addition to mothers. Today, any immediate family member is permitted to fly the Gold Star Service Flag in honor of the holiday.
Today, the United States is not engaged in a conflict comparable to World War I or II, and far fewer people contemplate Gold Star heroes and their families; frequently, people believe they do not know anyone from a Gold Star Family. However, there are more Gold Star families from previous conflicts than you may realize, and since over 1.3 million people are currently serving in the military, it’s possible that you know a family that is still mourning a recently deceased soldier. Understanding the sacrifice and recognizing the holiday are the most effective methods to honor the soldiers and support their families.
5. IMPORTANT GOLD STAR MOTHER’S AND FAMILY DAY FACTS
The American Gold Star Mothers’ headquarters is a house on 23 acres of land in Long Beach, California named “The Gold Star Manor.”
This program memorializes deceased soldiers by maintaining a registry of their deaths, so that they may be appropriately recognized in public.
During the holidays, the American Gold Star Mothers collaborate with Wreaths Across America to raise funds for wreaths to be placed on the graves of gold star soldiers.
Although you may not believe you know a Gold Star Family, the National Gold Star Family Registry has recorded approximately 472,050 Gold Star Families.
Gold Star Families include wives, but a distinct organization, Gold Star Wives, provides support and benefits to the spouses and children of fallen soldiers.
GOLD STAR MOTHER’S AND FAMILY DAY DATES