KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – The U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz paid tribute to fallen service members honoring Gold Star Mothers and Families within the community with a recognition ceremony held at Armstrong’s Club, Sept. 25.
Gold Star Mothers’ Day was first observed on the last Sunday of September in 1936. Because the loss of a loved one can affect the entire family, the U.S. Army recognizes this day as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day. This year, it was observed Sept. 24.
“As we gather today, we recognize that every Gold Star Mother and Family have in one way sacrificed for our beloved nation,” said Brig. Gen. Karen Monday-Gresham, commanding general, 7th Mission Support Command and deputy commanding general for the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. “We want you to know that your sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
Gold Star Family members are recognized for the loss of a father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, or another loved one – fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom. Gold Star Spouses are recognized each year on April 5.
“Today we recognize Gold Star Mothers and Families for their strength and courage to carry forward,” said Col. Reid Furman, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz commander.
Furman said that Gold Star Families shared a sacred bond – one that they did not ask to share, because their lives forever changed.
“We are in debt to you because you carry the legacy of your service member’s ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “Today, we honor you, and the memory of your loved ones.”
The term “Gold Star” was coined during World War I, when Americans started displaying flags with a blue star for each family member serving in the military in homes, schools, churches, and local businesses. As service members passed away, their families would honor them by stitching a gold star over the blue one.
In 1947, Congress approved the distribution of the official Gold Star Lapel Button for family members of military personnel who died in combat operations. Twenty-six years later, in 1973, the Lapel Button for Next of Kin of Deceased Personnel was introduced to represent armed services members who lost their lives while serving on active duty in non-combat operations or while assigned in an Army Reserve or Army National Guard unit in a drill status.
“Gold Stars do not live on a jacket or a blouse that is taken off at the end of the day,” Furman said. “Gold Stars live in our hearts, with memory of those lost. The Gold Star pin is a symbol meant to recognize your family members, your loved ones who gave their lives in service to our nation.”
“To those of you here today who have lost a loved one – my heart goes out to you,” added Furman.
The USAG Rheinland-Pfalz is dedicated to offering ongoing support to Gold Star mothers and family members of fallen service members. Programs such as the Survivor Outreach Services ensure that surviving family members can get the help they need to connect with the proper resources, assistance, and other people who share their journey.