Gold Star Mother’s Day
During the First World War, thousands of mothers throughout the United States received brief, emotionless notices that their sons had been killed in battle. The grief experienced by families, and the mothers of the slain in particular, was felt and noticed by one particular mother named Grace Seibold, whose son was killed in France in 1918.
Grace spent much of her time volunteering in hospitals as a result, and began to realize that, though her grief seemed so personal and solitary, that thousands of other mothers were experiencing the same emotions. As a result, she organized a group of people that consisted of mostly mothers of deceased soldiers, and they comforted each other and joined in their efforts to help the wounded sons of mothers who were more fortunate than they. The group eventually became known as the Gold Star group, since a gold star was typically hung in the house window of any family who had lost a son to the war.
President Woodrow Wilson approved of suggestions made by a Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense in 1918. This council of women proposed that instead of wearing traditional mourning clothes, women and families of those men and women killed in battle wear a black band emblazoned with a gold star on their left arm, in recognition of the sacrifice their sons or daughters had made in the name of freedom and democracy.
The President agreed that, “The Service Flag displayed from homes, places of business, churches, schools, etc., to indicate the number of members of the family or organizations who are serving in the Armed Forces or who have died from such service. Service flags have a deep Blue Star for each living member in the service and a Gold Star for each member who has died.” The Gold Star became the symbol of the Gold Star mothers who mourned the loss of their sons, and became a recognized symbol throughout the nation. Unfortunately, a gold star, marking the supreme sacrifices of many service men and women through the years, ultimately covered thousands of blue stars.
The tradition carried on through the Second World War in the 1940’s and the Korean War in the 1950’s. Gold Star Mother’s Day has been recognized on the last Sunday of every September since 1936. It’s a day that’s used to help veteran’s organizations around the country and to perpetuate the memory of those lost in battle from all wars fought by the United States. To this day, flags are flown on this very important day, and while not recognized as a federal holiday, is one that all people can participate in. Public church services are held throughout the nation on this day. It’s a somber day, one in which mothers who have endured the loss of sons and daughters in service to America is recognized and honored. While everyone suffers the loss of loved ones during a time of war, mothers especially feel and suffer from that loss.
In 1936, the United States congress declared that, “Whereas the service rendered the United States by the American mother is the greatest source of the Country’s strength and inspiration, and whereas we honor ourselves and the mothers of America when we revere and give emphasis to the home as the fountainhead of the State…a proclamation calling upon the Government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings, and the people of the United Sates to display the flag and to hold appropriate meetings in their homes, churches, or other suitable places, on the last Sunday in September, as public expression of the love, sorrow and reverence of the people of the United States for the American Gold Star Mothers.”