Who are Gold Star Mothers?
Gold Star Service Flag made by Richard Gideon Flags
Gold Star Mothers are mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of our country. They are represented by an organization called American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., established June 4, 1928, by a group of women whose sons had died in World War I.
The "gold star" refers to the gold star that replaced the blue star on service flags and banners displayed by the families of soldiers in time of war.
The following information on Service Flags is taken from AMERICAN VEXILLUM Magazine and the web site of RICHARD R. GIDEON FLAGS.
The Service Flag was created in 1917 by a former U.S. Army officer, R. L Queisser of Cleveland, Ohio, to honor his two sons who were serving in France. He used blue stars to symbolize his sons - one star for each. The flag quickly caught on as a window banner (an advertisement for a window banner is in the October, 1917 edition of National Geographic). But it was during W.W.II. that the Service Flag really took hold, becoming a common sight in homes across America. Congress passed an Act (36 U.S.C. 901) officially recognizing the Service Flag, and Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 1348.20, 1 December 1967 (revised September, 1996), implemented the Act of Congress.
The Blue Star Service Flag may be displayed by an immediate family member of someone enrolled in the military during a time of war or national emergency, with one blue star representing each member of the family enrolled in the armed forces. It is just as proper to fly a Service Flag for a daughter who is a military doctor in a state-side hospital as it is for a son who is a tank commander in Iraq. "Immediate family members" are defined as "wife, husband, mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, parent through adoption, foster parents who stand or stood in loco parentis (the position of a parent), children, stepchildren, children through adoption, brothers, sisters, half brothers, and half sisters of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States".
The Service Flag may also be displayed by organizations for their members who are currently enrolled in the military.
Here is where the Gold Star part comes in. A gold star indicating the enrolled member has died under honorable conditions. The gold star is lapped over the blue star so that a blue border shows. Also, the death does not have to be combat related. The regulations clearly state "killed or died while serving," and do not specify how the death occurred.