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What Is a Gold Star Family?

Even though the name has somewhat of a cheery ring to it, Gold Star Families are titles that nobody wants to bear. This name is given to immediate family members related to a United States service member that is killed in the conflict. 


Although this is a significant honor that symbolizes the bravery that went into dedicating their life to the United States, it is never easy to lose someone close to you. While this group is known for their courage and patriotism, it’s not a club anyone joins willingly.


It’s important to understand the history of Gold Star Families, their significance towards the United States Military, and how to honor the families of these heroic service members. 


Keep on for more information on these brave Americans.

History of Gold Star Families

The “Gold Star” term did not come to fruition until the Great War. Families would display banners of blue stars for every one of their immediate family members that were serving in the United States Armed Forces. If they received the dreadful news that one of these members had been lost during combat, the blue stars were then changed to gold. 


This method is used to signal to their respective communities that one of their loved ones had sacrificed their lives. Their relatives died for our country, and we honor them through this subtle mark.


In a world before texting and emails, this symbol also provided a form of communication for friends of these respective families to help others and provide comfort and empathy to those in need.


In a way, the gold stars signified a coming together of American people far and wide in the wake of tragedy. The idea is to bond strangers together to commemorate the bravery and heroism that their loved ones displayed on the battlefield.

Gold Star Commemorative Days

Over the course of time since its inauguration, the United States began to honor Gold Star Families on particular days throughout the calendar year. The first of its kind was “Gold Star Mother’s Day” on the last Sunday in September. The first one of these notable events occurred in 1936.


Nowadays, this date honors both the Gold Star Mothers and Families, respectively. The Gold Star Wives was created subsequently before the end of World War II.


The Gold Star Wives of America organization was created to be a non-profit organization that provides help, friendship, and aid to wives who have lost their spouses to a military-related death.


This organization has had quite a legacy. From their days of supporting the Greatest Generation to modern times, this group has had a deep impact on our nation, including testifying to Congress on how to help military families. 

The Gold Star Lapel

The Gold Star Lapel button was created in 1947. This pin was also created for a similar meaning as the banner marker. This pin notified the public of your status as a relative to a fallen service member killed in military action.


This button is designed with a gold star ¼ inch diameter overlapping a ¾ inch purple disc. The star symbol itself is surrounded by golden leaves in a wreath-like fashion that are approximately ⅝ of a diameter.


On the opposite side of the Gold Star Lapel button, there is the text inscribed: “The United States of America, Act of Congress, 1 August 1966.”


There are other related buttons that can apply to other military family members, such as the Next of Kin of Deceased Lapel Button. This is available to survivors of military members whose death doesn’t qualify for the Gold Star Lapel button but still gives these people the chance to honor their fallen loved ones.

How To Honor Gold Star Families

As Americans, not only should we support the brave men and women protecting our freedoms, either on the mainland or far overseas, we should also look to serve their families on the homefront. 


Like mentioned before, there have been national days set aside to honor these family members who have earned the Gold Star status. The last Sunday of September each year is used to honor the Gold Star Families and Mothers across the United States. On April 5th, the country honors Gold Star Spouses with a separate day to recognize those who’ve lost their partners to military conflict.


The Lapel Buttons are a critical way to bestow your condolences to the mourners. Today, the United States recognizes fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters, and other loved ones who did in service to their nation. As early as September 25, 2020, the Gold Star Lapel Button Program now honors stepsiblings after an expansion last year. 

Significance of the Military

The United States military views its military as the strongest group in the world. In a symbolic way, all military members and the people waiting for them form a unique type of family unit.


Honoring these Gold Star Families does a fantastic job of unifying military families when they need it the most. It’s our job as fellow Americans to recognize these specific dates, as well as the buttons that symbolize them as well.


The effort behind this lapel program was to prevent the asking of uncomfortable questions aimed towards these Gold Star Families. Learning about the history of these groups and lending aid is a great way to respect and honor the surviving family members of the fallen.


The United States Military has fought for individual freedoms and liberties for centuries now. These service members bravely risk their lives for the better of the country and for the potential freedom and rights of other areas of the world. When these service members can’t come home, it is up to American citizens to help ease the family’s burdens.

Other Ways to Help

Aside from the National days of recognition, there are other things you can do to let these Gold Star Families know how special they are. If you’re interested in raising money for any of these non-profits, many gratefully take donations. There are also special events used to raise money for the organizations, such as the annual 5k Run / 1 Mile Walk for Fallen Heroes.


Even something as simple as making dinner and bringing it over to these families may be dearly appreciated. Raising your American flag is also a great way to show honor and pride towards the military and its fallen members.


Our Allegiance Promise

At Allegiance Flag Supply, we are proud of the country we call home. Our American flags are made by United States seamstresses right here in America. Our flagpoles are sourced from Vermont White Ash.


“Made in America” doesn’t only apply to our flags and flagpoles. Our spinners and brackets are made in America and sourced from local aluminum and cast iron. When you see your flag sway in the breeze, you can fully know that this flag was born and bred in the USA. 


We are partnered with several worthy non-profits. We direct part of our profits into the Boot Campaign, the Best Defense Foundation, and Team RWB. These organizations provide much-needed aid to veterans and their families. It’s just a small way we can show our gratitude to the people that keep the United States safe. 

Gold Star Gratitude

The United States of America prides itself on its sense of comradery, unity, and individual freedoms. The armed service members dedicate their lives towards serving this wonderful country so that we can be a beacon of freedom around the world.


The next time you see somebody wearing either a Gold Star or Next of Kin Deceased Lapel pin, let them know how much you appreciate the service their family members took to keep you safe.

 

Sources:

 

Honoring Gold Star Families | Military One Source

Stepsiblings Now Included in Gold Star Lapel Button Program | Military One Source

An Honor No One Wants: What is a Gold Star Family and How is it Different from a Blue Star Family? | Hope for the Warriors

Gold Star Survivors | Army Official Website

Understanding the Significance of the Gold Star | United States Department of Defense

Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I Library of Congress

Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. | Congress.gov