One of the greatest tragedies is the loss of a child in combat. Thanks to Grace Darling Seibold, the sacrifices of mothers who have sent children to war have been recognized, but not sufficiently. Seibold managed the grief of losing her son George in World War I by working with mothers in the same situation. She organized these women and eventually formed the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. in 1928. This truly honorable group of Americans was recognized with a charter from Congress in July 1984.
The Gold Star Mothers’ history includes the use of a so-called service flag with stars embroidered on a white background bordered in red. Blue stars represent a son or daughter serving during war or hostility. Gold stars honor a son or daughter killed in action.
Today, the flag’s appearance, manufacture, and display is regulated by Title 36 United States Code, Sections 179-182 (36 U.S.C. 179-182), enacted in 1967, nearly 20 years before the congressional charter. By law, the flag and a related lapel pin are controlled by the Institute of Heraldry under the Secretary of the Army.