For more than 75 years, the last Sunday in September has been designated as Gold Star Mothers Day, in recognition of the sacrifice made by mothers who have lost a son or daughter in service to our country.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, George Vaughn Seibold, 23, volunteered, requesting assignment in aviation. He was sent to Canada where he learned to fly British planes since the United States had neither an air force nor planes. Deployed to England, he was assigned to the British Royal Flying Corps, 148th Aero Squadron. With his squadron, he left for combat duty in France. He corresponded with his family regularly. His mother, Grace Darling Seibold, began to do community service by visiting returning servicemen in the hospitals.
The mail from George stopped. Since all aviators were under British control and authority, the United States could not help the Seibold family with any information about their son.
Christmas Eve, 1918, the postman delivered a package to the Washington, DC residence of George and Grace Seibold. The package was marked, “Effects of Deceased Officer, First Lieutenant George Vaughn Seibold, Attached to the 148th Squadron, BRFC.” No other information was provided.
Grace continued to visit hospitalized veterans in the Washington area, clinging to the hope that her son might have been injured and returned to the United States without any identification. While working through her sorrow, she helped ease the pain of the many servicemen who returned so war-damaged that they were incapable of ever reaching normalcy.
Grace Darling Seibold
After months of inquiry, the family received official notice. “George was killed in aerial combat during the heaviest fighting over Baupaume, France, August 26, 1918.” His body was never recovered.
Grace, realizing that self-contained grief is self-destructive, devoted her time and efforts to not only working in the hospital but extending the hand of friendship to other mothers whose sons had lost their lives in military service.
She organized a group consisting solely of these special mothers, with the purpose of not only comforting each other, but giving loving care to hospitalized veterans confined in government hospitals far from home.
The organization was named after the Gold Star that families hung in their windows in honor of the deceased veteran.
After years of planning, June 4, 1928, twenty-five mothers met in Washington, DC to establish the national organization, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
The success of our organization continues because of the bond of mutual love, sympathy, and support of the many loyal, capable, and patriotic mothers who while sharing their grief and their pride, have channeled their time, efforts and gifts to lessening the pain of others.
We stand tall and proud by honoring our children, assisting our veterans, supporting our nation, and healing with each other.
On May 28, 1918, President Wilson approved a suggestion made by the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenses that, instead of wearing conventional mourning for relatives who have died in the service of their country, American women should wear a black band on the left arm with a gilt star on the band for each member of the family who has given his life for the nation.
“The Service Flag displayed from homes, places of business, churches, schools, etc., to indicate the number of members of the family or organizations who are serving in the Armed Forces or who have died from such service. Service flags have a deep Blue Star for each living member in the service and a Gold Star for each member who has died.” Thus, the gold Star and the term Gold Star Mother, as applied to mothers whose sons or daughters died in the World Wars, has been accepted.
Who Is a Gold Star Mother?
Often the question has been asked, “Who is a Gold Star Mother?” During the early days of World War I, a Blue Star was used to represent each person, man or woman in the Military Service of the United States. As the war progressed and men were killed in combat, others wounded and died of their wounds or disease, there came about the accepted usage of the Gold Star.
This Gold Star was substituted and superimposed upon the blue Star in such a manner as to entirely cover it. The idea of the Gold Star was that the honor and glory accorded the person for his supreme sacrifice in offering for his country, the last full measure of devotion and pride of the family in this sacrifice, rather than the sense of personal loss which would be represented by the mourning symbols.
Proclamation by the President of the United States
- Whereas the preamble to Public Resolution 123, 74th Congress, approved June 23, 1936 (40 Stat. 1895), recites:
Whereas the service rendered the United States by the American mother is the greatest source of the Country’s strength and inspiration; and “Whereas we honor ourselves and the mothers of America when we revere and give emphasis to the home as the fountainhead of the State; and
- “Whereas the American mother is doing so much for the home and for the moral and spiritual uplift of the people of the United States and hence so much for good government and humanity; and
“Whereas the American Gold Star Mothers suffered the supreme sacrifice of motherhood in the loss of their sons and daughters in World Wars”
- and Whereas the said Public Resolution 12 provides:
“That the President of the United States is hereby authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the Government officials to display the United States flag on all Government buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag and to hold appropriate meetings in their homes, churches, or other suitable places, on the last Sunday in September, as public expression of the love, sorrow and reverence of the people of the United States for the American Gold Star Mothers.”
“Sec. 2. That the last Sunday in September shall hereafter be designated and known as “Gold Star Mother’s Day,” and it shall be the duty of the President to request its observance as provided for in this resolution.”
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BLOGGER’s NOTE: Most of us don’t think too much about our military or their families. It’s not that we don’t care, we are simply busy with our own lives, too busy to consider the everyday sacrifices these families make on behalf of their soldier. Whether the service member is stationed stateside or deployed to one of the many overseas stations, they are separated from family and loved ones for long periods of time. If they are overseas, they are also in a foreign culture which is often difficult to adjust to. The people speak different languages, have different cultures, and different ways of doing things. It’s asking a lot of our service members to make these adjustments, but they do it willingly. They signed up for this voluntarily. They families, though, did not, and yet they, too sacrifice their loved one to the service of the United States of America for an indefinite period. There is much uncertainty in the life of a service member, and uncertainty is one of the most difficult things for any of us to live with. Perhaps today is a good day to take a minute or two to ponder what a mom feels or a dad … when their son or daughter is deployed to the other side of the globe. Take time to appreciate their sacrifice.