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Gold Star Mother’s Day and Resources for Grieving Families

Gold Star Mother's Day

History of Gold Star Mother’s Day

On the last Sunday in September – falling this year on September 27th – Gold Star Mother’s Day is an observed holiday originally declared in June of 1936. It is a “public expression of the love, sorrow and reverence of the people of the United States for the American Gold Star Mothers.”

During the beginning of World War II, a blue star on flags, homes, and businesses represented a connection to a living active duty servicemember. As men were lost to combat, a gold star was superimposed over the blue star to honor their sacrifice. Eventually the mothers of the fallen were known as Gold Star Mothers, and the loved ones as Gold Star Families – it spurred a tradition that is still practiced today.

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.

Having officially received incorporated status in January of 1929, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. (AGSM) is a nondenominational, non-profitable, and nonpolitical organization of American mothers and stepmothers who had sons or daughters in service of the United States Armed Forces who became missing in action, died while on active duty, or died as a result of service.

AGSM partners with a number of national organizations – such as Boy Scouts of America, Fisher House, Operation Gratitude, and others – “in an effort to build a stronger awareness” for their common missions, “while supporting educational events throughout the nation to teach lessons of patriotism.”

They also give out scholarships, perform vital community service, and own a manor in southern California, of which they rent out apartments to members in need. There are currently about 1,000 active members in the organization across the United States.

Amended  to Be Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day by Presidential Proclamation

In 2016, President Obama amended the day to be Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day. In his Presidential Proclamation he spoke in honor of the day and the people it highlights: “ On this day of remembrance, may we carry forward the work of those who gave their last full measure of devotion and vow to keep their memories burning bright in our hearts. And may we lift up their families, who have steadfastly supported their mission through immeasurable heartbreak, by remaining a Nation worthy of their sacrifice.”

Additional Resources for Loved Ones Who’ve Lost a Family Member

AGSM isn’t the only place where loved ones who’ve lost a family member to military service can get help, however. There are branch-specific support networks:

  • Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) – The official Army, long-term support program for surviving families of deceased service members, providing comprehensive services that include assistance with housing, education and finances.
  • Long Term Assistance Program – The official Marine Corp resource for survivors that connects family members to grief and peer support experts, provides information on benefits and entitlements and offers any kind of assistance needed.
  • Navy Gold Star Program – The official Navy support network which provides survivors with information on the resources available to them.
  • Air Force Families Forever – The official Air Force support network offered to survivors who are grieving the death of a service member, providing online community through Family Support Network.

There are also a number of counseling options, such as Veterans Affairs Bereavement Counseling and services directly through TRICARE. You can explore further options through the publication, “The Days Ahead,” written to help surviving family members find programs and organizations, books, websites, and advice for coping with loss.

Gold Star Weekend During Covid

Every year, in honor of Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, AGSM plans a Gold Star Weekend, but In light of the current pandemic, this year’s festivities look a little different. There is an outdoor meet and greet at National AGSM Headquarters in D.C., a commemorative ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery, and a 2.2 mile Suicide Prevention Walk-a-Thon.

These events, as well as the many others planned throughout the year, all serve one main purpose: to provide support for those in pain. Due to the nature of membership, this support comes directly from those who know firsthand what that pain is born of. It’s a community that has bound together to uplift those in need.