New York State Funeral Directors Association

The last Sunday of September is approaching, and with it, a solemn commemoration

Gold Star Mother’s Day is designated as a time to acknowledge so many whose children were lost while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The late-September commemoration was declared by Congress in 1936.

It called on Americans to “display the flag and hold appropriate meetings at their homes, churches or other suitable places on the last Sunday in September, as a public expression of the love, sorrow and reverence of the people of the United States for the American Gold Star Mothers.”

The declaration came roughly seven years after American Gold Star Mothers Inc. was created as a nonprofit organization.Its formation stemmed from the experience of Grace Darling Seibold, whose son George Vaughn Seibold was killed in WWI.

While hoping for her son’s return, Grace Seibold visited hospitalized veterans – a tradition now followed by many members of the organization, according to the website of Gold Star Mothers Inc.


Today, and likely in the past, recognition and empathy is extended to the many people – not just parents – who have lost family members in the Armed Forces.Gold Star Mothers at Arlington National Cemetery September 27, 1936 - From the Library of Congress

It’s a staggering number of people affected by the death of a member of the U.S. armed forces, when you think about it.

There are at the very least two family members – a mother and a father – for each member of the military who made the ultimate sacrifice in wars the United States has been engaged in.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 1.1 million American service members have died while serving – including battle deaths, in theater and non-theater deaths between 1775 and 1991:

  • American Revolution - 4,435
  • War of 1812 - 2,260
  • Indian Wars - 1,000
  • Mexican War - 13,283
  • Civil War - 498,332
  • Spanish-American War 2,446
  • World War I - 116,516
  • World War II - 405,399
  • Korean War - 54,246
  • Vietnam War - 90,220
  • Desert Shield/Storm - 1,948

And these numbers don’t include the many brave men and women lost since the Global War on Terror began in 2001.

The Patriot Guard Riders of New York – Patriots who support U.S. Service Members, veterans and their families, maintains a list of service members lost between 2001 and 2015.Like other states, New York offers a License Plate for Gold Star Mothers to be recognized

It includes the names of more than 300 New Yorkers.

Today, there are Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments situated in 37 different U.S. States – another 51 monuments are currently being planned or built, according to the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.

This foundation is fostering the development of these monuments throughout the country with the goal of honoring all of those who have “sacrificed a loved one in the service of their country.”

There is one thing those who do not have family members lost in military service could do to show Gold Star families their loss is appreciated – hang an American Flag in a prominent location where all can see.

EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association