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Gold Star Spouses' Day Pays Tribute to Families of the Fallen

04/06/17 12:00 AM

By Lisa Bauch, Special Contributor to Navy Installations Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON -- This year you may have noticed something different about the annual day recognized to pay tribute to the contributions of the Gold Star Wives of America. "Gold Star Wives' Day," celebrated annually on April 5, is now "Gold Star Spouses' Day."

"As the military has evolved over the years, so too has the role and demographics of the 'military spouse.' The Gold Star Wives of America organization, while traditionally made up of women, has amended their membership requirements to include all spouses, regardless of gender, as a reflection of these changes," said Stephanie Hunter, Navy Gold Star Program Analyst. "We recognize that the origins of this day are steeped in history and want to honor that past, but we also understand the evolution of today's military culture."

The Gold Star recognition first appeared on flags in 1918, when families would pin 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 1945, a group of war widows banded together to collectively work to improve benefits for the "Military Surviving Spouse," who at that time was all but forgotten after the loss of her husband. This group went on to form the Gold Star Wives of America organization.

Since 2010, Congress has passed an annual resolution recognizing April 5 as "Gold Star Wives' Day" to pay tribute to the contributions of individuals belonging to Gold Star Wives of America. The survivor support community has adopted this date as a way to acknowledge the sacrifices of and to thank all Gold Star spouses in addition to those who belong to this organization.

"The Navy is committed to providing long term assistance to surviving Family members. The Navy Gold Star Program is dedicated to fostering resiliency for surviving families of fallen service members," said Mike Bruner, Navy Gold Star Program Manager.

Navy Gold Star offices provide referrals to 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 remember that that no one has given more for the nation than the families of the fallen and let them know they will never be forgotten," said Bruner.

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(Lisa Bauch is an analyst for the Navy Gold Star Program under Navy Installations Command)

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