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Honoring Our Gold Star Mothers

Friday, September 27, 2013

She walks quietly among us with a deep, unwavering sorrow. Still fresh is the memory when she received that knock on the door, yet she tries desperately to continue living life for herself. She watches her son’s peers go on to accomplish life-long dreams like getting married or having children, and wonders where her son would be today if he were still alive. Although three painful years have passed, the planet has evolved, an election has occurred and the war itself has changed, her tears are still moist, her heart shattered. The headlines of her son’s death stream through day dreams like a news reel. She is the face of our nation’s Gold Star Mother.

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Photography by Patrick J. Hughes, www.patrickjhughes.org

For nearly a century, the Gold Star tradition has reminded Americans of the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for their country. The tradition dates back to World War I when military families would hang a blue star in the windows of their homes to signify an active duty service member. That blue star was replaced with a gold star when a service member was killed in the line of duty. From this simple act of unity, the Gold Star Mothers, a network of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in combat, was formed.
Today, Gold Star Mother’s Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of September each year. These women inspire others through their poise, gallantry and resilience to honor their son or daughter’s legacy.

The title of Gold Star Mother is a badge no woman wants. However, these women have stepped forward past the restraint of loss to band together for support and guidance. This group compiles matriarchs from generations of women who have survived their children during our nation’s historic conflicts. Their unifying loss bonds them when the rest of the world is numb to the aftermath of their children’s ultimate sacrifice.

Photography by Patrick J. Hughes, www.patrickjhughes.org
Our Gold Star Mothers extend a hand to one another as an act of unifying and healing. If you’re looking to receive that hand, or if you’re looking for ways to help our Gold Star Mothers and Families, here are some resources that may help.

Since the late 1920s, this organization of empathetic women arranges yearly memorial events around the country including Gold Star Mother’s Day at Arlington National Cemetery.
Beginning in 2010, the Gold Star Family Registry is an online resource which honors those who have laid down their lives for freedom during all of America’s past conflicts.
Standing to honor and bring awareness to Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA), Rolling Thunder is a non-profit organization that donates to charities helping Veterans and families of POW/MIA.
Founded in 1994, T.A.P.S. provides emotional support to anyone who has lost a friend or family member serving in the United States Armed Forces. This group helps not only the families of lost loved ones, but they offer assistance to all who suffer.

For additional resources, visit your base’s survivor outreach program.

This article has also been published at Military One Click.


  1. Thanks for this post. I had no idea what Gold Star Mothers were or that it was even a thing. I really appreciate you opening my eyes to another world I've never lived in. My heart goes out to all those Gold Star Mothers and can't even imagine what it would be like to lose a child nor do I ever want to find out. Thanks.

    1. Hi E,

      To date, this was the most difficult post I've had to write. I actually broke down in tears doing the research for it. As a military spouse, I have a choice to live this lifestyle. But our Gold Star Mothers don't have a choice in their son's or daughter's military career. They're dealt the hand of being a military parent whether they like or expect it. I can't even begin to imagine what Gold Star Families must endure, and my heart goes out to them all.

      Thank you so much for your comment bestest.

      - EB


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