“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 29, 2013, as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day. I call upon all Government officials to display the flag of the United States over Government buildings on this special 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 and Families” – from a Proclamation by President Barack Obama, Sept. 26, 2013
A Gold Star Mother is one who has lost a child (male or female) who died in the line of duty while serving in the armed forces of the United States. The American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. is a socially active but non-partisan organization of those mothers for the purposes of “providing emotional support to its members, doing volunteer work with veterans in general and veterans’ hospitals in particular, and generally fostering a sense of patriotism and respect for members of the Armed Forces.”
The history of the organization goes back to World War I. It was a common practice at that time for families to place on their windows a blue star for their sons who were serving in the war and a gold star if he was killed.
Enter Grace Darling Seibold. Her son, George Vaughn Seibold, flew as a pilot for the 148th Aero Squadron of the British Royal Flying Corps since the U.S. did not have an air force at that time. While she worked as a volunteer community service worker with returning troops, she corresponded regularly with him. However, after the letters suddenly stopped, she did everything possible to locate him, but to no avail. After months of her efforts, she received notice that “George was killed in aerial combat during the heaviest fighting over Baupaume, France, August 26, 1918.” His body was never found.
Siebold assuaged her grief by organizing a group of women who had also lost loved ones in the war and called it after the Gold Stars being placed on the windows. A few years later, on June 4, 1928, “twenty-five mothers met in Washington, DC to establish the national organization, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.” Whereas their original purpose was to support each other, they realized that “giving loving care to hospitalized veterans confined in government hospitals far from home” was a far greater and more meaningful purpose.
Then eight years later, Congress passed and Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Senate Joint Resolution 115 of June 23, 1936 (49 Stat. 1895 as amended), which designated the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.”
A Gold Star Mother’s National Monument has been proposed to honor Gold Star Mothers. Section 2859 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (P.L. 112-239) authorized a foundation to “raise private funds to construct a memorial on federal land in Washington, D.C.”
More information about American Gold Star Mothers can be found on Facebook and the public is invited to join them in as they participate in many memorial events around the country. Information can be found on their website. In addition, those interested in finding Gold Star Mothers in their family history may research their genealogy here.
Besides establishing Gold Star Mother’s Day, Public Resolution 123 (40 Stat. 1895), Sec. 2. of that resolution states, “it shall be the duty of the President to request its observance as provided for in this resolution.” Standing all politics aside, it is unfortunate that no presidential proclamation for Gold Star Mother’s Day was made in 2014.