By Monica Wood, Fort Sill FMWRApril 5, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla. (April 5, 2013) -- April 5 has been designated Gold Star Wives Day to allow America to pay respect to the spouses and families of fallen members of the U.S. armed forces.
The spouses and families of fallen service members have sacrificed so much and to recognize these sacrifices, the Senate passed a resolution to designate Gold Star Wives Day.
The Senate resolution states military service members and veterans "bear the burden of protecting the freedom of the people of the United States, and the sacrifices of the families of the fallen members and veterans of the armed forces of the United States should never be forgotten."
Gold Star Wives Day was first celebrated Dec. 18, 2010, through a Senate resolution with support from the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., a nonprofit organization of about 10,000 members that provides services and support to the spouses of fallen service members.
"Gold Star Wives Day serves as a way to honor the sacrifices that these wives have made. It also creates community awareness," said Jodi Jordan, coordinator, Survivor Outreach Services Support.
According to Jordan, there are more than 230 Gold Star families in Comanche County. Gold Star family members are spouses, parents, siblings and children of a Soldier on active duty.
Amanda Alexander, a Gold Star wife, said the day serves to create awareness in the Army community of Gold Star families.
"I think there are many people that are unaware of what a Gold Star wife or family is and the day can be the first step in getting that conversation started," she said.
"As a family member, your whole world becomes wrapped around your Soldier and the Army. When you lose your Soldier, you tend to feel like you have lost your place in the community."
Gold Star Wives, as well as other next of kin, receive a lapel pin in recognition of their loss. Behind every gold star pin there are stories of fallen Soldiers and strong survivors.
"The sacrifices of a Gold Star wife reach beyond losing the person she considers a life partner - it is a loss of goals and expectations, it impacts her identity within the Army culture and completely changes the path of her future," said Jordan. "The importance of Gold Star Wives Day is that it brings acknowledgement to and honors the many sacrifices of these courageous and resilient women."
The Department of Defense presents one of two lapel pins to Gold Star family members. The pins are worn by the survivors to recognize their sacrifices and as a way for others to pay tribute to them.
The first pin is the Gold Star lapel pin, which was established by Congress in 1947 and is presented to spouses and family members of service members killed in combat.
The second pin is the Next of Kin lapel pin, which is presented to immediate family members of service members who die while serving outside of combat operations. This pin features a gold star on a gold background.