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Honoring Gold Star Families2 minute read • Aug. 16, 2021
Gold star families – spouses, children, parents, siblings or others whose loved one died in service to our nation – are a vital part of our country’s military community and history.
Military Heroes Honored
A new Department of Defense online memorial honors service members who died while serving honorably on active duty since 1985, including peacetime deaths. Survivors may submit names for inclusion.
How did the term gold star originate? During World War I, families displayed small banners with a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces. If their service member died in service, the family replaced the blue star with a gold star. The gold star let the community know that their service member died or was killed while serving their country.
Today, the nation recognizes gold star survivors in several ways to show its deep gratitude, including:
- Designating the last Sunday of September as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day
- Recognizing April 5 as Gold Star Spouses Day
- Authorizing the Gold Star Lapel Button
These buttons are a symbol of the nation’s appreciation of a service member’s sacrifice to country and service, allowing us to honor and recognize the families of these brave men and women. To learn more about the Gold Star Lapel Button and how to honor gold star families:
- Watch the video America’s Gold Star Lapel Button
- Enroll in this brief MilLife Learning course, “Recognizing Military Service”
- Contact your respective military service – Army, Marine Corps, Navy, the Department of the Air Force or Coast Guard
- Review DOD’s policy on the Gold Star Lapel Button, Service Flag, and Service Lapel Button
Even though gold star families have experienced a great loss, their ties to the military community remain strong. Their military networks are dedicated to supporting them. To learn more about the gold star survivors resources and benefits:
- Download A Survivor’s Guide to Benefits: Taking Care of Our Families
- See an overview of what’s available at Gold Star & Surviving Family Members – Benefits
- Review the Gold Star & Surviving Family Members section of Military OneSource