Friday is Gold Star Spouses Day Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 April 2013
By Jody Carmack
Special to GUIDON

There are a few times every year that make us take a moment and reflect on the service of our military, such as Memorial Day, Patriots Day or Veterans Day.

There are lesser known days that should be added to your understanding of what it is to be part of our nation’s military Family, Gold Star Wives Day on Friday and Gold Star Mothers and Families Day on  the last Sunday in September.

A Gold Star Spouse or Family is one whose service member has died while serving on active duty, which includes during combat operations.

The first Gold Star Wives Day was Dec. 18, 2010. It was set up to formally recognize the efforts of the group, Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.  This group was organized, with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt, to assist the Families left behind by the fallen members and veterans of the armed forces of the United States. Since then, Congress has designated April 5, as Gold Star Wives Day because that date is the day the first Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., meeting was held in 1945. The modern intention is to recognize all Gold Star military wives, whether or not they belong to GSWA.  

At Fort Leonard Wood Survivor Outreach Services, we recognize that today’s military not only has Gold Star wives, we also have Gold Star husbands as well. We have chosen to refer to the day as Gold Star Spouses Day. We want to ensure the sacrifices of men and women supporting their service member are noted by our nation and to honor their fallen service member.

The oldest symbol of Gold Star recognition was established in 1917 — the Blue Star Service Flag/Banner with a Gold Star. This banner that had a Gold Star placed over the Blue star, signifies that the service member fighting overseas, has died for their country. Communities would rally around the Gold Star families and lend them support that honored and recognized their sacrifice.

The “Gold Star” lapel button and the “Next of Kin” lapel button are also symbols of a Gold Star Family member. They are presented by the Department of Defense to immediate Family members of service members who died in a combat zone or whose service members died while on active duty.  

In addition to these time tested symbols, there are other symbols that are not as well known. Most states offer Gold Star license plates.  These vary from state to state and Missouri’s is called the “Some Gave All” plate.  In 2011, SOS created a Gold Star Vehicle Decal, which originally provided ease of entry onto Army installations before the vehicle registration program was retired.  This is still available for eligible Survivors and now serves as a symbol of recognition. In 2013, SOS has been approved to begin issuing Gold Star Survivors that are not eligible for a military identification card a Gold Star Installation Access card.  This card is designed to provide ease of entry onto Army installations and serves as another form of recognition for the Families that have given so much to our nation.  

Also in 2013, most Army installations will begin reserving Gold Star Survivor parking spaces at various locations around post. On Fort Leonard Wood, these spaces will be marked with signs at the commissary and Army Community Service.

Unless you have lived through this particular sorrow, you can never know how important these symbols are to the Families that display and utilize them and the comfort that comes from people knowing their meaning.

One of the goals for SOS for 2013 is to educate everyone connected with the military on recognizing the symbols that show honor to the Families of these lost service members.  

On Friday or the next time you see one of the Gold Star Survivor symbols, take a moment and let the Survivor know you are thankful for the service of their loved one and honor their loss.  

We can support the commitment of our nation to our military fallen by recognizing their Families and showing that we care. They will forever be part of our military Family.

For more information about the Gold Star Service flag, the lapel buttons or how the Army provides assistance to these survivor Families, visit the Survivor Outreach Services office at Army Community Service in Bldg. 486 Replacement Avenue or call 596.0195.

(Editor’s note: Carmack is the Support Coordinator for Fort Leonard Wood Survivor Outreach Services.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 April 2013 )