Gold Star pins are placed next to each other.

Honoring Gold Star Families

Gold star families – spouses, children, parents, siblings or others whose loved one died in service to our nation – are a vital part of the nation’s military community and history.

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 lapel 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. Contact your respective military service – Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard for more information.

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 resources and benefits available to gold star survivors, download A Survivor's Guide to Benefits: Taking Care of Our Families, or see an overview of what’s available at Survivor & Casualty Assistance – Benefits.

More comprehensive information about various benefits for Gold Star survivors can be found in the Survivor & Casualty Assistance section of Military OneSource.