Gold Star Service

Blue Star Service Banner
During World War I, families of US service members began a tradition of hanging a banner in a front window of their home to indicate they had a family member serving in the armed forces.

The "service banner," as it came to be known, was rectangular, longer than it was wide, and was composed of a wide red border and a center white background. Centered in the white background, a single navy blue star represented the family member in the armed forces.

Service Banner showing both blue and gold stars

If the flag had more than one star, the number of stars represented the number of family members serving in the armed forces. These banners became known as "Blue Star Bannners."

The Blue Star was covered or replaced by a Gold Star if the service member was killed, or died later as a result of injuries incurred. These banners became "Gold Star Banners." Thus the term, Gold Star service.

Gold Star Mothers

The Gold Star Mothers organization was founded by Mrs. Grace Seibold, of Washington, DC, whose son, First Lt. George Seibold, was killed in aerial combat over France in August 1918. In those days, the US had no air force, so George trained in Canada, and served with the British Royal Flying Corps in France. When regular correspondence from George stopped arriving, his parents became understandably concerned. But because their son was serving with British forces, the US government could not assist them with any information regarding his whereabouts.

On Christmas Eve, 1918, the mail delivered to their Washington, DC, home included a package marked, "Effects of Deceased Officer, First Lieutenant George Vaughn Seibold, Attached to the 148th Squadron, BRFC." No other information was provided.

Mrs. Seibold had been performing volunteer service in hospitals during the war, visiting returning injured service members. She continued this service after her son's death, clinging to the hope that George had been injured and returned to the US with no identification. She also began to organize a support network of other mothers whose sons had died during the war.

In 1928, the group decided to establish a national organization, which they incorporated as American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. There were 65 founding members.

Pride Rather Than Mourning

During the war, President Wilson had approved a suggestion that as a symbol of mourning, American women could wear a black band on their left arm with a gold star for each member of the family who had given his life in service to the nation.

Gold Star BannerThe Gold Star on the service banner was to represent the honor and glory accorded the person for his supreme sacrifice in offering for his country, the last full measure of devotion. It also represented the pride of the family in this sacrifice, rather than the sense of personal loss which would be represented by the mourning symbols.

Today, there are just under a thousand members of Gold Star Mothers. Membership is open to any natural mother whose son or daughter served and died in the line of duty in the Armed Forces of the United States or its Allies, or died as a result of injuries sustained in such service. Adoptive mothers and stepmothers are eligible under certain circumstances.

This is an organization of mothers whose sons or daughters served and died that this world might be a better place in which to live. They deserve our profound gratitude and respect.

Congress Designates Gold Star Mother's Day

In 1936, the 74th Congress approved a resolution which recites, in part:

"Whereas the service rendered the United States by the American mother is the greatest source of the Country’s strength and inspiration; and . . .

"Whereas the American Gold Star Mothers suffered the supreme sacrifice of motherhood in the loss of their sons and daughters in World Wars."

It provides:

"That the last Sunday in September shall hereafter be designated and known as "Gold Star Mother’s Day," and it shall be the duty of the President to request its observance as provided for in this resolution."

Presidential Proclamation for Gold Star Mother's Day

Each year, the President issues a proclamation in observance. Following is an example.

Gold Star Mother's Day 2007
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

"The gift of liberty is secured by heroes who have answered the call to serve when America needed them most. On Gold Star Mother's Day, we honor the mothers of the service men and women who have given their lives in the defense of our great Nation.

America's Gold Star Mothers are remarkable patriots who serve their communities by demonstrating good citizenship, providing support and services to our troops and veterans, and helping comfort the families whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice. Their sense of duty and deep devotion to our country inspire our Nation, and we thank them for their compassion, determination, and strength.

Though they carry a great burden of grief, these courageous mothers help ensure that the legacy of our fallen heroes will be forever remembered. On this day, we offer our deep gratitude and respect to our Nation's Gold Star Mothers; we honor the sons and daughters who died while wearing the uniform of the United States; and we pray for God's blessings on them, their mothers, and their families.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 115 of June 23, 1936 (49 Stat. 1895 as amended), has designated the last Sunday in September as "Gold Star Mother's Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in its observance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Sunday, September 30, 2007, as Gold Star Mother's Day. I call upon all Government officials to display the flag of the United States over Government buildings on this solemn day. I also encourage the American people to display the flag and hold appropriate ceremonies as a public expression of our Nation's sympathy and respect for our Gold Star Mothers.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.


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I invite you to get to know my remarkable friend, Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee, and her son Petty Officer Marc Lee, the first Navy SEAL to give his life in Iraq.

Gold Star Siblings was organized to support those who have lost a brother or sister in active military service.

Would you like to know more about the Medal of Honor?

Learn more about some contemporary American heroes.

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