Our Gold Star theme this year is “Let us shelter the hearts of our Gold Star Members.”
A Gold Star member is a mother, wife, daughter, or sister who has lost a loved one in service to his/her country, serving during the eligibility dates for The American Legion. While in service means “killed in combat” and/or “died” so long as death is not caused by the individual’s own willful misconduct.
Please send to me the names of your Gold Star members and something about their eligibility – not how they lost their life but how they lived! There is a form on the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Illinois’ website under the Gold Star link. You fill in your information as the Gold Star member along with the information and a copy of a picture of your Fallen Hero. This information and picture will remain on the Department’s website for years to come under the Gold Star link. We want to recognize that no one has given more for the nation than the families of the fallen.
Gold Star Mother’s Day is observed in the United States on the last Sunday of September each year. It is a day for people to recognize and honor those who have lost a son or daughter while serving the United States Armed Forces. This year it will be on Sunday, September 30th. Gold Star Spouses Day is April 5th.
How will you show reverence and support honoring a Gold Star member this year?
Here are some ideas:
1. Mail an appreciation card to a Gold Star Family: You may also mail a card to TAPS, requesting forwarded delivery to a Gold Star member.
2. Display your American flag: If you’re a military family, display your service flag on the front door/porch continuing World War customs. Make or purchase a patriotic wreath for a Gold Star neighbor.
3. Attend a local Gold Star tribute ceremony: Local newspapers and veteran organizations often list when and where to participate in Gold Star, Veteran Day, and Memorial Day events. If there isn’t a local event, create one!
4. Buy a Starbucks card or ecard on behalf of a Gold Star Family you know. Spread the love even further through the Starbucks Adopt-a-Unit program!!! Don’t know a Gold Star Family? Starbucks has you covered as well. The Starbucks Armed Forces Network Facebook group can guide you on how to donate a drink this Gold Star Mother’s Day.
5. Donate to an organization that directly supports Gold Star Families:
· Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors TAPS provides peer mentors, youth programs, seminars, suicide help, and local care groups for ALL family, friends, and battle-buddies struggling though the death of a military loved one.
· Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund CFSRF focuses on assisting children who lost a parent in the Iraq/Afghan wars with college grants and scholarships. Financial grants are also available to qualified surviving families during times of hardship.
· Operation Family Fund OFF offers grants for funeral, legal, medical and dental expenses and day-to-day emergencies with home or vehicle repairs. Sadly, more than 5000 qualified families are stuck on a waiting list for immediate ‘emergency’ help. I’m sure OFF would be thrilled by your generosity in helping military families of the fallen.
6. Help a Gold Star family in your community with car or household repairs: To find a family in need contact local churches, call TAPS or any patriotic service organization and offer your skillset.
7. Assist a Gold Star family in purchasing an inscription, brick or plaque at a local memorial: Locate a regional park, church, cemetery, or military base chaplain to ask how you can provide such a thoughtful gift on behalf of a Gold Star Family.
8. Gold Star Mission. www.goldstarmission.org The Gold Star Mission is a nonprofit organization that seeks to Honor and Support Gold Star Families by preserving the memory of our Fallen Heroes through service to others in need. The Gold Star Mission was established in 2017 in Springfield, Illinois after several veterans and friends, moved by stories of the Gold Star Families that lost a loved one in Afghanistan or Iraq, took action to help others in need. What started as a desire to provide scholarships for surviving children has evolved into widespread effort to assist Gold Star Families and others in need in order to preserve the memory of our Fallen Heroes. The scholarships are named for the Fallen Heroes.
9. The single best thing you can do this year is simply listen: Listen and be the tremendous support system I know you are; befriend a Gold Star Family. Keep memories of fallen heroes alive: Plant a tree, buy personalized jewelry or journals, release a balloon, and give the gift of a silent thank you.
The following are the Department and personal awards for this year. Be watching in the ALA Today for the following information:
Starr’s Heartwarmers Plaque: Units, please select and nominate a Gold Star Member of the Year. The entry is a narrative, not to exceed 1,000 words, and must be signed by the Unit President. Entry must include eligibility, offices and chairmanships held, and other outstanding qualities which explain why your Unit believes your Gold Star member should receive this award. Entries need to be send to Department Chairman Jill Layton by May 1, 2019.
$10.00 personal award to the Auxiliary member submitting the best original Gold Star Poem: An original poem written by an Auxiliary member and must have a Gold Star theme. Entries need to be sent to the Department Chairman by May 1, 2019.
As you plan your year’s events, please remember to honor your Gold Star members.