Mission & History

Our Mission

The mission of the Gold Star Luminary Initiative is to promote awareness of Gold Star Family Day and urge organizations and individuals in communities throughout the United States to light luminaries at dusk on the last Sunday of each September in honor of our fallen heroes.

For the Families of our Fallen Heroes

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
—John 15:13 (NIV)

It could be argued that an even greater love does exist; that of a parent for their child. Tragically, since September 11, 2001, almost 7,000 families have been forced to deal with the utterly devastating heartbreak that accompanies that love as their children laid down their lives for their country.

Most of us have not experienced this tragedy. Most of us never will. We can't relate personally or begin to imagine what that must be like. What we can do, however, is honor and recognize these families. We can thank them for the sacrifices they and their children have made on our behalf. We can let them know that, no matter what, we support and stand behind them as a country and that, if even just for a day, their burden is our burden too.

Gold Star Family Day is September 25, 2022

We ask that you light a luminary on Gold Star Family Day. Please pledge your support of this special day and encourage your community to light luminaries, honoring members of all branches of the service, including those who have lost the fight after struggling to reintegrate into civilian life. Our goal is to have as many communities as possible in each state support the families of our fallen heroes. There is power in numbers and together we can show Gold Star families that we are a grateful nation.

"We are so grateful for the amazing event you planned for Gold Star Family Day. The loss and pain will always be there, but to be reminded of why our fallen heroes sacrificed so much, is very meaningful. Thank you."

—The Family of Sergeant Phillip Anderson

History of the Luminary Initiative

Thousands of luminaries have been lit on the last Sunday in September for over a decade. In 2007, the founder and staff at Marine Parents understood that although there has been a presidential proclamation since 1936 to honor Gold Star Mothers, there was no nationwide call for action to show support and remembrance of the sons and daughters of Gold Star Mothers. It was decided that we would ask folks to light luminaries in one of our newsletters that went out to 50,000 Marine Parents and family members. The response and feedback was tremendous.

Since 2007, the Luminary Initiative has taken hold with individuals, groups and organizations lighting luminaries to honor Gold Star Family members around the United States; whether a few luminaries on a front lawn or hundreds in a community event, the impact is the same: the country shares your loss on this day and we want to keep their memories alive.

Please help spread the word and light a luminary on the last Sunday in September.

The History of Gold Star Family Day

Shortly after World War I, the Gold Star Mothers Club was formed in the United States to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a Service Flag in their windows. A Service Flag would have a star for each family member in the military embroidered on it. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star and those who were killed in action were represented by a gold star.

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. was founded in 1929, after receiving a charter from Congress. It was founded by 25 mothers living in the Washington, D.C. area and soon expanded to include affiliated groups across the nation. On June 23, 1936, a joint Congressional resolution designated the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother's Day.

Gold Star Mother's Day has been observed each year since 1936 by presidential proclamation—beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt and continuing through to the present day. Beginning in 2009, the last Sunday in September—originally designated as "Gold Star Mother's Day"—is now designated as "Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day" by an annual presidential proclamation.

"We participated with our individual family this past year. We plan on extending the invitation next year. What a humbling time to give honor and respect to all those who have lost a loved one. Our prayers go out to all. Never a day goes by that I don't say a prayer for these families."

—Jackie B.

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