SAN ANTONIO (April 3, 2015) -- "There is no shame on how your loved one died, but there is pride on how they lived," said Gold Star Wife Cheryl Lankford.
"Soldiers lead a life of service, and gold star wives should remember that," she continued.
This Sunday, the Army and nation will honor and remember the surviving spouses of fallen Soldiers.
April 5 is designated as Gold Star Wives' Day. The gold star has been a symbol to identify surviving Family members of fallen Soldiers since the first World War.
Surviving Family members wear either a Gold Star Lapel Button or the Lapel Button for Next of Kin of Deceased Personnel in honor of their fallen Soldier. The former is a gold star on a purple circular background and is presented to widows, widowers, parents and next of kin of U.S. Armed Forces members killed in combat operations. The latter is a gold star on a gold background and is presented to the immediate Family of U.S. Armed Forces members who die in service outside of combat operations.
Family members typically receive these pins by the military during their Soldier's funeral service.
In honor of Gold Star Wives' Day, garrisons and local communities across the world will host events which recognize survivors for their sacrifices. Events range from Run for the Fallen races, luncheons to remembrance ceremonies.
Although April 5 is the official designated day for gold star wives, the Army is dedicated to taking care of over 60,000 surviving Family members every day.
Survivor Outreach Services is an official program in Installation Management Command's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorate which delivers the Army's commitment to giving survivors services and support for as long as they desire. The program has dedicated personnel who provide survivors financial education, benefits coordination, and support counseling.
"SOS serves as an advocate for the survivor," said Hal Snyder, chief of IMCOM's Wounded and Fallen Support Services Branch. "We want to reassure our survivors that they will remain part of the Army Family and that our commitment to them is unwavering."
Surviving Family members are featured on the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation website. Gold star wives and children share their stories in the "Soldier and Family Blogs" section. For more information about the gold star pins and to read these blogs, visit www.goldstarpins.org or www.armymwr.com.