Gold stars aren’t necessarily a good thing in the military community. Yes, they can mark a high rank, but they also symbolize the ultimate sacrifice.
Gold Star Wives of America is a venerated group that no one wants to join. It’s composed of widows and widowers of service members killed on active duty or due to service-related disabilities. It was founded in 1945 by widows from World War II.
Then there’s Gold Star Families. They’re part of Families United, a nonprofit support group for families of fallen service members. Again, a club no one wants to qualify for, but one that is deeply appreciated by its members.
This weekend (July 23-24, 2010), Families United is honoring the families of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan with the second annual Weekend of Remembrance. There will be a dinner where families will share their memories of their loved ones, a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and a trip to Six Flags to end the solemn celebration on a lighter note.
And after the weekend ends, these families can stay connected through the new National Gold Star Families Registry. This online resource includes a social network for families, a searchable database of service members killed in the line of duty and a tribute page where the public can pay homage to the fallen.
Here’s a case where the gold star is a shining example for the rest of us on how we can support our military families.