Gold Star Survivors
“In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parents who lose a child.” – Jodi Picoult
Though this saying is true, there is a term for military families who have lost a loved one who served. They are called gold star families.
You may have seen a gold star flag or pin before – these are symbols that evolved from service flags families used to display in their windows, which featured a blue star for each (living) family member serving in the military and later gold stars for each deceased member killed while in duty. A vertical service flag with a gold star symbolizes a family member who died while in service of the U.S. Armed Forces. The gold star may also be seen as pins with round purple backgrounds worn by mothers and family members (as seen on the banner above).
While service members who pass away have paid the greatest price, the parents and family left behind also pay a price. That’s where gold star organizations come in. Associations such as American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. and the Navy Gold Star Program are dedicated to supporting those devastated by the loss of their service member. They assist survivors not only by providing a community of people who intimately understand their situation, but also by providing connection to services and opportunities for them to honor the fallen through service to veterans and patriotic events.
Gold Star Mother’s Day falls on the last Sunday of September each year – two days from now for 2015 – and is a day to recognize and honor those who’ve lost a child as they served in the U.S. Armed Forces. On this day, our President encourages Americans to display the nation’s flag and take the opportunity to publicly express their love, sorrow, and reverence for all Gold Star Mothers and families.
So while any day is a good day to fly our nation’s flag and thank a family for their loved ones’ sacrifice, this Sunday is an especially poignant opportunity to show your gratitude and appreciation to those who both proudly and painfully display gold stars.