THE HISTORY OF THE GOLD STAR MOTHERS
Shortly after World War I the Gold Star Mothers Club was formed in the United States to provide support for mothers that lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the military. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star.Today, membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States. On the last Sunday in September, Gold Star Mother’s Day is observed in the U.S. in their honor.
The Gold Star Mothers was founded by Grace Darling Seibold of Washington, D.C. Her son, First Lieutenant George Vaughn Seibold, was killed in aerial combat over France in August, 1918. Mrs. Seibold was already doing volunteer service in veteran’s hospitals. After her son’s death, she continued this work, and also began organizing a group of other women who had lost their sons in the war. The mothers did volunteer work together, and served as a support network for one another.
On June 4, 1928, the members of the club decided to establish it as a national organization. They incorporated in Washington DC under the name of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. At the time, the club had sixty five members, but this number soon increased as more women learned about the national organization.
Today, membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman whose child has died in the line of duty of the United States Armed Forces. Stepmothers and adoptive mothers are eligible for membership under certain circumstances.
Husbands of Gold Star Mothers may become Associate Members.
Gold Star Mothers is made up of local chapters, which are organized into departments. Five members are required to start a local chapter. If no local chapter is available, a woman may join the organization as a member at large.
Just as when it was founded, the Gold Star Mothers continues to concentrate on providing emotional support to its members, doing volunteer work with veterans in general and veterans’ hospitals in particular, and generally fostering a sense of patriotism and respect for members of the Armed Forces.