Gold Star Mother’s and Family Day falls on September 24 this year and is traditionally observed on the last Sunday in September.
The day is for honoring families of those who have received The Gold Star – the military award no one wants.
The award commemorates the tragic death of a military member who has perished while in the line of duty and hopes to provide a level of comfort to the parents and families that are left behind. Since World War 1, a “Gold Star Family” has signified a family that has lost one of its members in combat.
The family can display a Gold Star Service Flag for any military family members who have died from any honorable cause – each gold star on the flag signifies a death.
Though today only around 1% of the country is involved in military service, as compared to the 12% during other times of war, like World War 2, there are still a significant number of surviving Gold Star families – not to mention, a Gold Star lives on in a family’s legacy.
The Gold Star Lapel Button also referred to as the Gold Star Pin, is distributed to members of the immediate family of a fallen service member by the Department of Defense. The pin is distributed according to strict Department of Defense guidelines for service members who have lost their lives in a conflict or in support of certain military operations.
The Gold Star first made an appearance during World War I after being placed over a service flag’s blue star when a service member was killed in combat. The Gold Star signified the family’s pride in the loved one’s sacrifice rather than the mourning of their personal loss. The lapel pin displays a Gold Star with a purple background surrounded by a gold wreath.
Shortly after World War I, the Gold Star Mothers Club was formed to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of families of service members hanging a Service Flag in their windows. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the military embroidered on it. Living service members were represented by a blue star and those who were killed in action were represented by a gold star.
Gold Star Mother’s Day has been observed each year since 1936 by presidential proclamation, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt and continuing through to the present day. Beginning in 2009, the last Sunday in September, originally designated as “Gold Star Mother’s Day”, is now designated as “Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day” by an annual presidential proclamation.
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