World War I mothers of sons and daughters in service displayed their BLUE STAR flags with both pride and concern...knowing their children were in harm's way. The blue star represented both their pride, and their hope. A large part of the program was to initiate whatever efforts they could to some day bring their children safely home.
For more than 60,000 mothers of World War I veterans, hope was shattered. The gold star came to represent the sacrifice their sons made on behalf of freedom. The organization became a rallying point for a support group of grieving mothers, long before anyone had ever heard the term support group.
While many Blue Star Mothers, upon the safe return of their children, could get on with their lives, the Gold Star Mothers could never forget the losses incurred in the war. On June 4, 1928 a group of 25 mothers in Washington, DC began plans for a national organization to be known as the AMERICAN GOLD STAR MOTHERS, INC. They incorporated the following January 5th with 65 charter members.
Eleven years after the end of World War I, the United States Congress took an unprecedented step in the history of warfare, giving unusual recognition to the mothers of those killed in that war. In 1929 a law was passed authorizing the Federal Government to disburse funds for these Gold Star Mothers and Widows (whether they belonged to the organization or not), to travel to the battlefields of Europe to visit the burial sites of their loved ones. On February 7, 1930, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover pulled 54 envelopes out of a large silver bowl in the Red Room of the White House. Each envelope contained a card with the name of a state or US Territory. The first state to be drawn was the State of Nebraska, and as each subsequent card was drawn it was handed to the Quartermaster General for disposition.
On May 7th of that same year the first 231 Gold Star Mothers and Widows boarded the S.S. America in New York to visit the sites where their sons or husbands had made the supreme sacrifice for freedom. Over the following 3 years, a total of 6,692 such pilgrimages were made.
It was an unprecedented gesture by a grateful Nation, in recognition of the sacrifices on the home front.
On June 23, 1936 the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 115 (49 Stat.1895), further recognized the sacrifice of these Gold Star Mothers when it set aside the last Sunday in September of each year as Gold Star Mothers Day, and authorized the President to issue a proclamation in observance of that day.
In the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, "There is nothing adequate which anyone in any place can say to those who are entitled to display the gold star in their windows America lives in freedom because of the sacrifices of America's finest citizens and of the mothers who raised them.."
Perhaps the single most famous mother to have joined was Aletta Sullivan, the mother of the five Sullivan brothers, who were killed in action when their ship, the USS Juneau (CL-52) was sunk on November 13, 1942 during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
US CODE: Title 36111. Gold Star Mother’s Day
New Hampshire has a dedicated Gold Star Mothers Day ~the first Sunday after Easter ~ NH RSA 4:13-h Gold Star Mother's Day