Honoring the Families of Fallen Soldiers: Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day
When a soldier dies during active duty, the loss reverberates through the service member’s family and community. The death of a loved one is especially difficult for parents whose children have passed away while serving. Each year on Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, the surviving relatives of these soldiers are recognized, a tradition that finds its roots in World War I.
When is Gold Star Mother’s Day this Year?
National Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day is held on the last Sunday in September, which this year will be September 24, 2023. This national observance was started in 1936 when Congress decreed its establishment.
What is Gold Star Mother’s Day?
A Gold Star Mother or Family refers to the living relatives of a US soldier who died during active-duty service. This observance is held each year to honor the troops who have passed away and their parents and families.
The phrase “Gold Star” comes from World War I, when homes and businesses would hang service flags with a blue star for each active-duty soldier. When troops were killed in combat, a gold star would be embroidered over the blue one.
In 1917, following the entrance of the United States into WWI, 23-year-old George Seibold enlisted and learned to fly planes. His squadron was assigned to combat duty in France, where he sent his family letters until one day, they suddenly stopped. His mother, Grace, visited hospitalized soldiers in the US, hoping her son might have returned.
Grace and her family learned of George’s death in late 1918. To help process her grief and that of other women in similar positions, Grace organized the Gold Star Mothers, a group composed of mothers and families who had lost children during combat. The organization is still active today and invites mothers whose children have died in past and in new conflicts to reach out.
How to Honor Gold Star Mothers and Families
National Gold Star Mother’s Day is a flag-flying observance in the US, with civilians encouraged to fly an American flag in support of these mothers and families.
The Gold Star Mothers organization holds an annual ceremony in Washington, DC, and local chapters and groups have smaller meetings nationwide. If you know any Gold Star Mothers or Families in your community, reach out to them and show your support.
While losing a loved one is difficult, these families are not alone. Gold star mothers and families can turn to one another and their communities for solace and assistance. On this year’s Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, you can honor both the lives of the service members who died while on active duty and their living parents and families.