Gold Star families are the topic of many questions and confusion. Many people do not even realize what a gold star signifies, why these families wear the star, or the history behind the tradition. Even fellow service members and their families who are not gold star eligible may not understand the significance of the display or why it is so important.
Why are Gold Star Families Special?
What sets Gold Star families apart and makes them special is the sacrifice that they have made and the loved one that they have lost in military service to the country. These families have sent a loved one off to combat or military service deployment and their relative was killed, so they have paid the ultimate price for their country and their fellow citizens.
When you see someone wearing or displaying a gold star this shows that they have lost someone close and that this person died while serving their country. This is the highest sacrifice that anyone can make for their country and the families left behind when this sacrifice is made have paid a high cost for their patriotism.
How are these Families Identified?
It is easy to identify Gold Star families because they usually display a gold star in order to remember, honor, and respect their fallen loved one. The star may be displayed on a service medal pin, a purchased lapel pin, or it can be displayed in a window or other location on a service flag. This alerts others that the family has lost someone close because of their service.
What is a Service Flag?
A service flag is a flag that has been authorized by the U.S. Department of Defense used to display stars and denote active military service, and it is an official banner flown by military families who have a member in service. Blue stars are used for each member in the military, and a gold star denotes that the family lost a member who was in the military.
What is the History of Gold Star Use by Military Families in the USA?
Gold Star families have been around since World War I. During the first world war families whose members went off to war displayed a white flag that had a red border around it, and the flag had a blue star for every member who was serving. A gold star was added when a member died during their service to their country.
Who can Wear or Display a Gold Star?
Anyone who belongs to the category of Gold Star families can wear the gold star with pride. There is no law that states only military members or those who have lost a loved one in service can put a gold star pin on, but this honor is specially designated for family members who have lost a loved one in service so that others will recognize their sacrifice.
How do Family Members get the Gold Star Pins and Flags?
Gold Star families who are eligible for a gold star lapel pin or flag will be awarded an official pin or flag by the military. There are two types of lapel pin that a family member may be eligible for, the gold star pin and the next of kin of deceased personnel lapel button. Which one is awarded will depend on the circumstances and location of the service member’s death.
What Support is Available for Families Eligible for a Gold Star?
There are many organizations that honor Gold Star families or offer resources and assistance to those who have lost a service member. Operation Never Forget has a gold star program to honor and remember our fallen heroes and their family members. The National Gold Star Family Registry offers a searchable database for those who want to find service members who have died in service.
The Navy Gold Star Program also offers assistance and resources for Gold Star family members, and these individuals may also be eligible for survivor’s benefits and additional support services through the government as well.
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