By: Stephanie Hunter, Navy Gold Star Program
WASHINGTON – Committed to providing continued assistance to families of service members that paid the ultimate sacrifice, the Navy honors it’s extended family on Gold Star Spouse Day worldwide on April 5.
Originally named Gold Star Wives’ Day in 2010, Congress passed a resolution in 2013 recognizing April 5th as the day to pay tribute to the contributions of the Gold Star Wives of America (GSWA).
The GSWA is a non-profit organization established by four young widows who met in Marie Jordan’s apartment on April 5, 1945. A week later, former President Franklin d. Roosevelt died and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt joined the organization becoming one of the original 15 signers when GSWA was chartered at the state of New York in Dec. 1945.
The survivor support community has pledged to provide unique services for service widowers not available by any other organization.
As the military has evolved over the years, so has the role and demographics of the military spouse. The Gold Star Wives of America amended their membership requirements to include husbands as a reflection of these changes. It is recognized that the origins of this day are steeped in history and to honor that past there must also be a recognition of the change and evolution in today’s military culture. Therefore, it is recognized that April 5th as Gold Star Spouses’ Day.
The Gold Star is a symbol of loss dating back to World War I and continues today. Traditionally, families that had a family member serving in the Armed Forces displayed a blue star service flag in their homes to signify a deployed family member. The Gold Star recognition first appeared on flags in 1918, when families would place a gold star over the blue service star hanging in their window to indicate that their loved one had been killed overseas while serving in the U.S. military.
In 1947, congress approved the design, manufacture and distribution of the official Gold Star lapel button. The lapel button identifies surviving family members of service members who have been killed in specific conflicts. This pin features a gold star on a purple background. The Next of Kin of Deceased Personnel Lapel Button was later introduced in 1973 symbolizing the primary next of kin of an armed service members who lost their lives in non-combat operations. This pin features a gold star on a gold background surround by laurel leaves.
The Navy Gold Star Program is dedicated to fostering resiliency for surviving families of fallen service members. Navy Gold Star offices provide resources such as chaplain services, personal financial counseling, school liaison assistance, family employment, clinical counseling, and area survivor events and want these individuals to know they will forever be a part of the Navy community.
As we observe Gold Star Spouses’ Day, let us all honor the widows left behind by our service members called forward to pay the ultimate sacrifice.
To find out about how the Navy Gold Star Program is honoring Gold Star Spouses in your area, be sure to connect with your closest coordinator. Visit www.navygoldstar.com/locations or www.facebook.com/NavyGoldStar to find out how.