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Archived Articles
Formerly published by

Shirley G. Hodges
Was Your Ancestor a Gold Star Mother?
Published: 05 January 2012
By Shirley Gage Hodges   Biography & Archived Articles

Mothers throughout the ages have worried about their children who were away from their homes defending their country.

Beginning in World War I, American families often expressed their pride in their children's service in the military by displaying service flags. These flags had a blue star. Some families had more than one child serving in the military so the flags would display a blue star for each child in the service. If these families had a member who had died in the service of their country their star would be covered over with a Gold Star. This use of the Gold Star has continued since that time. The Mothers of these lost veterans became known as Gold Star Mothers. The designation is used for any mother who has lost a child in war.

In 1965, The United States Congress established the Gold Star Lapel Pin. There are two Gold Star pins that are available to relatives of those killed in combat. The Defense Department is in charge of awarding these.

The American Gold Star Mother, Inc. is a private organization that was organized in 1928

Each Christmas the First Lady carries on the tradition of the First Lady choosing a "theme" or "motif" for the White House trees. First Lady Michelle Obama chose the theme "Shine, Give, Share," as a way to honor our troops, veterans, and their families.

One of the most touching trees this year was the Gold Star Christmas Tree that was decorated in honor of our military families. The tree was decorated by Gold Star families who volunteered their time during the holiday season. It included photos of fallen heroes and messages about those who had fallen. Visitors were able to inscribe a ceramic gold star to honor their loved one.

We need to continue to show our pride in our military families. If you have a veteran in your family who has made the ultimate sacrifice make sure you are telling their story.

Until next time :)

Shirley Hodges, biography & genealogy lectures; email:

Editor's Note: Shirley Hodges is the author of the popular Guide to United States Census, 1790-1930

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