Military Life Resources Family & MilSpouse

Today is ‘Gold Star Spouses Day.’ Here are 5 things to know.

One day of acknowledging our Gold Star Spouses is hardly enough. Nonetheless, every April 5 we intentionally honor their immeasurable sacrifice.
Mandy Baker Avatar
A soldier from the U.S. Army Honor Guard carries a U.S. flag during the Full Honors Group Funeral Service for U.S. Army Air Forces Airmen missing from World War II in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, June 27, 2018. Laid to rest were Airmen Tech. Sgt. John Brady; Tech. Sgt. Allen Candler, Jr.; 1st Lt. John Liekhus; Staff Sgt. Robert Shoemaker; and Staff Sgt. Bobby Younger.

Gold Star Spouses Day has its origins way back to World War I. The families of servicemen would fly banners and hang them in their windows. These banners had a blue star to represent a service member in uniform. But, if their loved one was killed in action, the color of the star was changed from blue to gold, thus notifying the community the ultimate price that family had paid for their country. 

1. The Gold Star lapel pin was created in 1947

Following the popularity of the banners, in 1947, Congress approved the design for the official Gold Star lapel pin/button. This was introduced to represent service members who had died in combat. The pin takes the form of a gold star on a purple background.

NETCOM reflects on Gold Star Mother’s, Family’s Day
The Gold Star Lapel Pin provides an appropriate identification for widows, widowers, parents and next of kin of Service members who lost their lives in defense of the nation. The Next of Kin Lapel Button is provided to widows and widowers, parents and primary next of kin of service members who lost their lives while serving on active duty or while assigned in Army Reserves or Army National Guard units in a drill status. DVIDs.

2. The military bestows the Gold Star upon families 

SAN DIEGO (Nov. 17, 2015) Cmdr. Theron Davis, commanding officer of the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Hampton (767), presents a command coin to Cheryl Caleca, a Gold Star spouse whose husband passed away on active duty 40 years ago, on the mess decks of Hampton after a ceremony honoring Caleca’s late husband’s service. The Navy Gold Star Program assists family members of fallen service members in accessing benefits and resources to which they are entitled. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek A. Harkins/Released)

During the funeral service of the fallen military member, senior officers present the Gold Star Pin in addition to the national colors to the spouse or next of kin as a mark of respect for their sacrifice.

3. When is Gold Star Spouses Day?

The first Gold Star Wives Day was observed in 2010. Two years later the Senate passed a resolution that codified Gold Star Wives Day, which was set to be observed April 5 each year. To make it more inclusive this was changed later and renamed Gold Star Spouses Day. Gold Star Spouses Day is honored on April 5, annually.

4. Gold Star Spouses Day raises awareness

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attends the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Family BBQ in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2018. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

Gold Star Spouses Day brings awareness of the sacrifices and grief these spouses have faced in the name of their country. However, possibly more importantly, it brings awareness for the Gold Star survivors themselves of the large network of resources and assistance that is available to them. A few examples of the resources available to these spouses are: Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), scholarship resources which include the Pat Tillman Scholarship and the Fisher House Foundation Scholarship for Military Children, in addition to the Army’s Survivor Outreach Services (SOS).

5. Gold Star Spouses Day is observed in many ways

While Gold Star Spouses Day is not a national holiday, there are many installations that have their own programs to observe this day. Many of the installation observances focus on the military fitness and lifestyle. For instance, there are quite a few remembrance 5Ks which are run on April 5. There are also remembrance efforts seen online and on social media. One such effort is the Facebook campaign which urges Gold Star families to share photos and memories of their fallen loved ones.

While Gold Star Spouses Day is one day set aside each April to acknowledge the sacrifices of these military family members, their grief and loss is something that should be remembered each and every day. These special families have lost a loved one in the name of freedom, in the name of the United States. Their family member willingly fought, served and gave that ultimate sacrifice. This is something that should never be overlooked or forgotten, rather is something that should be acknowledged every day. Without these tragic losses, Americans would not have the freedoms they hold so dear, nor would America be the proud country that it has always been. It is only through the willingness to give everything that Americans have the ability to hold onto the patriotic pride that is so important.

This Gold Star Spouses Day, and every day, take the time to remember these families that have given so much. Never take for granted the freedoms America has been given and fought for. Keep these sacrifices in mind each day, and be grateful for the men and women who are so willing to pay that ultimate price for their country. Whether you take to social media or see one at your local military installation, thank a Gold Star Spouse today.