Robin Bartlett

American Gold Star Mothers

As I was writing my book I knew very little about the American Gold Star Mothers organization, but have become more familiar with them since Patti Elliott, the National Secretary of AGSM provided a heart-felt advance review of my book and acknowledged the death her son, SPC Daniel Lucas Elliott, killed in the Iraqi conflict. Her review sparked me to take a closer look at AGSM.

The term Gold Star Mother refers to any mother who has lost a child in service to our country. AGSA is a private, non-profit organization. They provide a variety of services and support to mothers whose sons and daughters served and died while on active duty in the Armed Forces of the US (KIA) or subsequently died as a result of such service or were missing in action (MIA). The organization currently has no requirement that the service member be killed in action or in a particular theater of operation. Associate memberships may be granted to Gold Star Fathers, Gold Star Siblings, and Gold Star Grandparents. Honorary memberships may be granted to mothers who were not citizens at the time of their son’s or daughter’s induction into the armed forces and became KIA or MIA.

The organization was founded by Grace Darling Seibold in 1928 after WWI after many years of planning twenty-five mothers they came together to honor the deaths of their children and create the organization. Grace was convinced that self-contained grief was self-destructive. Under her leadership, this grief found expression not only in comforting and supporting other mothers, but also in providing loving care for wounded veterans in hospitals, sometimes far from home, who needed help to heal and cope.

President Woodrow Wilson authorized the display of a flag to indicate the number of members of the family or organization who were serving in the Armed Forces or who had died from such service. The flag has a deep blue star for each living service member and a gold star for each member who has died. The term Gold Star Mother was originally created and applies to those who lost sons or daughters in WWI. It now relates to all American military engagements since that time. In 1936, Congress established the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother’s Day, and every year a presidential proclamation designates that day for national observance. The organization has grown over time and has multiple chapters in almost every State.

The most well-known Gold Star Mother was Aletta Sullivan, mother of the five Sullivan brothers, who were killed in action when their ship, the USS Juneau was sunk by an enemy torpedo during the naval battle of Guadalcanal in November of 1942.

The organization has grown over time and has multiple chapters in almost every State of the United States. The AGSM hosts a number of events for both Gold Star Moms and Gold Star family members and has established the following goals for members:

  • Keep the spirit of world service alive and develop it.
  • Continue the bonds of fellowship forged through that service and support and advance all patriotic efforts.
  • Develop a sense of community, state, and national responsibility.
  • Honor the lives of those who sacrificed themselves during American war engagements.
  • Ensure that all Gold Star Mothers and their descendants receive any assistance they need.
  • Promote peace and goodwill among all nations, including the United States.

The Gold Star Mothers’ website provides an incredible wealth of information about more than 70 related service organizations with descriptions and links to their individual web pages. Many of the organizations listed provide extensive resources beyond the support offered by AGSM. Click on each organization’s name to visit their website for more information.

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