Their sons and daughters may have fought in different wars, but they share the same grief. They are Gold Star Mothers. On the last Sunday in September, Gold Star Mother's and Family’s Day is observed in the U.S. in their honor.

The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. was formed in the United States shortly after World War I to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of servicemen families hanging a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the United States Armed Forces. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star. Gold Star Mothers are often socially active but are non-political. Today, membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States.

From the revolution that gave life to our Republic to the trials of our times, our men and women in uniform have put themselves in harm's way to defend the people they love and the land they cherish. Their actions attest not only to the depth of their sacrifice, but also to a belief in their country so profound they were willing to give their lives for it. On Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, we pay solemn tribute to all who did. Sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, they were all patriots with a devotion to duty that goes without equal. These proud Americans gave of themselves until they had nothing more to give.

As a grateful Nation honors our fallen service members, so too do we honor the families who keep their memory shining bright. They are parents who face the loss of a child, spouses who carry an emptiness that cannot be filled, children who know sorrow that defies comprehension. The grief they hold in their hearts is a grief that most, thankfully, cannot fully know. As fellow Americans, we must lend our strength to those families who have given so much for our Country. Their burdens are ones that no one should have to bear alone, and it is up to all of us to live our lives in a way worthy of their sacrifice.

In an effort to honor those who have given their all in the defense of our great Nation, and to those they left behind, Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) implemented the Gold Star program in June 2013 to ensure family members of active duty fallen Sailors have continued access at all U.S. Navy installations. U.S. Navy installations designated parking for Gold Star Family members at various locations in order to recognize and honor these families. There is designated Gold Star Family parking at my Headquarters Building, the Fleet and Family Support Center, the Navy Exchange, and other locations where these families can access resources and support services.

On this day of remembrance, let us rededicate ourselves to upholding the sacred trust we share with our Gold Star families and the heroes we have laid to rest. Let us always remember that the blessings we enjoy as free people in a free society came at a dear cost. Let us hold the memories of our fallen close to our hearts, and let us mark each day by heeding the example they set.

All my best,

CAPT Monty Ashliman

Commanding Officer, Naval Air Station Lemoore

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