Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on January 7, 2011
This news story didn’t get much, if any, coverage in the left-wing national media when it was announced by Congress, which is why I haven’t reported on it until now, after stumbling upon it today.
December 18 is now officially Gold Star Wives Day, 65 years after the organization was created. This nonprofit, national military widow/widowers service organization was chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1980.
God bless these courageous, patriotic Gold Star Wives — women who have made, and continue to make, such incredible sacrifices for our country.
Reported on the Army’s official website, Gold Star Wives finally get their day:
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Dec. 15, 2010) — The Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., has been going to Capitol Hill since December of 1945, when 23-year-old Marie Jordan invited women over for coffee after she read in the obituaries that their husbands had died. Her husband, Edward, had recently died in Germany.
“The women just wanted to talk,” said Marie Jordan Speer, in a Washington Post article five years ago. Now 88, the founder of the organization said the women “wanted the companionship of others who knew what they were going through.”
As a long-awaited Christmas present, U.S. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina introduced legislation to make their day a reality. He recently announced that Dec. 18 will be known as Gold Star Wives Day.
“The qualities of Gold Star Wives – their strength, selflessness and kindness toward others – reflect those of one of the organization’s founders, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt,” Burr said.
“Out of love and duty to their country, members of Gold Star Wives have volunteered to take on responsibilities that consume significant amounts of time and energy. By marking this day, we can offer a small token of appreciation for their patriotism and sacrifice.”
Local chapters will be hosting events on Saturday, but for those in the Washington, D.C. area, the Gold Star Wives Day was formally rolled out Wednesday.
A nonprofit national military widow/widowers service organization chartered by the U.S. Congress on Dec. 4, 1980, Gold Star Wives of America, Inc., is now in all 50 states of the union. Members appear before various House and Senate committees on issues concerning compensation, educational benefits, medical care, and other programs pertaining to the welfare of military survivors.
“It’s a full-time job,” said Sandra J.S. Drew, president of the Gold Star Wives Middle Atlantic Region, who also works full-time as a health insurance specialist at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
Her husband, Air Force Col. Samuel Nelson Drew, director of European Affairs for the National Security Council, was killed in Bosnia on Aug. 19, 1995, along with two U.S. diplomats when the armored vehicle in which they were riding plunged off a mountainside.
“This recognition of having our day has been a dream of our founder. This means our message can get out to more people. There are many spouses who don’t know they’re eligible for certain benefits,” Drew said.
According to Drew, Marie Jordan Speers wanted a Gold Star Wives day because she thought the American public should know that there are people who continue to die from service-connected disabilities.
“It doesn’t matter which war, how new a widow they are, or how old a widow they are,” Drew explained. “When you talk to our members, you don’t have to explain yourself when you start crying. They don’t expect you to apologize. They don’t tell you to get over it.”
“We are an organization of people who have suffered terrible loss and continue onward. And we can share our strengths when we need to share our strengths,” Drew said.
Gold Star spouses volunteer at Veterans hospitals and Veterans clinics and at other organizations where they live. Through their continued presence, the word gets out that the organization exists to help.
“We have brochures that are put into packets that go out to the casualty offices, but they aren’t looked at right away. A lot of our communication is through word of mouth. And in the age of the Internet, people contact us through our website.
“I had a World War II vet with 100-percent disability contact me. He wanted to be sure his wife would be taken care of after he passes on,” Drew said.
Currently, Gold Star Wives work for improved benefits for all surviving spouses and their children, such as: increased Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for all recipients, improved health and pharmacy benefits, retention of DIC benefits after age 55 if remarried, and elimination of the DIC offset which now decreases the amount they should receive through the Survivors Benefit Program.
“We have 10,000 members. We never hope for new members, but we welcome all who are eligible. But every time we get a new member, it means someone has died and it’s sad,” Drew said. “We now have a larger percentage of surviving spouses than we’ve had in earlier wars, because the volunteer Army has more married Active Duty members than during previous wars.”
“We would love to see the last Gold Star wife die without ever needing this organization again. But that’s probably never going to happen,” Drew said.
From Bryan County News, Gold Star Wives recognized nationally:
Patricia Barbee will salute other women like her on Saturday.
“I’m going to have my cup of tea and hoist it high,” said the Gold Star Wife and North Bryan resident who, like thousands of other women across the country, lost her husband during wartime.
Congress dedicated Dec. 18 as Gold Star Wives Day, a day to honor and recognize those widowed as a result of armed conflict or active military duty. Saturday is first official day of national recognition for Gold Star Wives of America, a national organization of those who lost their military spouses.
The resolution to designate Dec. 18 as Gold Start Wives Day was introduced in September by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
“Gold Star Wives Day is an important day where we can reflect upon the strength and selflessness of the Gold Star Wives and recognize that they continue to do important work under extremely difficult circumstances,” Burr said in a written statement. “We can never repay these volunteers for the sacrifices they’ve made, but we can let them know that we appreciate and recognize their patriotism and service.”
Gold Star Wives of America was founded in 1945 with the help of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, according to the association’s website. The association now boasts around 10,000 members in 26 states, and its mission is to “provide service, support and friendship to the widows and widowers of military personnel who died on active duty or as the result of a service connected cause.”
Saturday is the 65th anniversary of the incorporation of the Gold Star Wives, according to the Senate resolution. Some Gold Star Wives said the recognition is significant.
“It means a lot,” said Lessaline Jones, the president of the Atlanta chapter of the Gold Star Wives of America. “It gives us recognition that we normally don’t get.” Jones lost her husband, Milton Jones, in 1945. He served in the Army during World War II.
Barbee, Gold Star Wives member-at-large of the Southeast region, said the recognition is a long time coming.
“It’s about time,” she said.
From The Leaf-Chronicle:
On September 28, 2010, the U.S. Senate passed resolution (S. RES. 654) designating Dec. 18, 2010 as “Gold Star Wives Day”.
December 18, 2010 is a day that marks the 65th anniversary of the incorporation of the Gold Star Wives of America, a group that recognizes and honors the contributions and sacrifices of military widows.