The History of the Gold Star Family Designation

The phrase Gold Star Family dates back to World War I when military families displayed service flags featuring a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the Armed Forces. The star’s color would be changed to gold if the family lost a loved one in the war, hence the term Gold Star Family.

Individual military family members who lost a loved one also started to be referred to as “Gold Star Wives,” “Gold Star Mothers,” etc.

In 1928, Grace Darling, a Gold Star Mother, took this then-informal designation one step further and founded American Gold Star Mothers and a group of 25 other grieving mothers.

The organization, a membership-based organization devoted to keeping the memory deceased service members alive by working to help the military community, is located in Washington, D.C., and still operates today.

A few years later, in 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt built upon this growing movement to honor the mothers of deceased service members and designated the last Sunday of September as National Gold Star Mother’s Day the last Sunday of September. Today, we still celebrate National Gold Star Mother’s Day.

Col. David H. Carstens presents Tiffany Oppong, wife of fallen U.S. Army Soldier Spc. Daniel Oppong, with a registered Gold Star lapel pin.