Recently in the news there has been a lot of talk about Gold Star families. Here is a brief primer on what this term means and why it is so very important to our country.
The Star Families
If you see a blue star on a white background with a red border, as at the above left, you are looking at the Blue Star Service Flag.
This flag is flown by families who have at least one family member currently serving in the military during a period of war or conflict. The flags started being used during World War I as a symbol of national pride.
A flag like this means a family is separated by a deployment – like fathers from children, wives from husbands, or brothers from sisters. Each star on the flag represents a service member. This is their sacrifice.
A Gold Star family is one who has lost a service member in combat. It honors the fallen family member and the family that lost them.
If you are driving around town and see a gold star on a white background with a red border, as above right, flying, this family has given the most it can give. This family will have one less person at the table at Thanksgiving, one less voice in their chorus of laughter at family gatherings, and one less person to carry their family name.
If you are speaking to someone and see one of these pins on their lapel, take a moment to thank them and recognize the burden they silently carry.
The gold star on the purple background means the person wearing it is the immediate family member of a service member who was killed in combat. The gold star on the gold background is worn by the next of kin of armed service members who were killed outside of combat, while serving.
The military men and women who are killed while serving pay the ultimate price for our freedom. And the family members left behind carry that sacrifice forward in their lives.
It’s not simply that they have lost a loved one; the direction of their lives have been changed forever. Their identity as wives, husbands and children change as well.
Mother’s Day becomes emptier. Anniversaries and birthdays change from joyous to somber occasions. All because of the dedication, commitment and bravery of a member of our armed forces who was willing to give everything in service to our country.
Military families provide the strength for our soldiers, sailors and airmen around the world. When one of our military dies, our commitment to their family must not. No one has given more to our country and nation than the families of fallen military members. This is their sacrifice – and honoring them is our sacred duty.
“With malice toward none…let us strive on…to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and orphan…” – Abraham Lincoln