COVID-19 prevents in-person honors for second year

by Robin Kemp

Since World War One, when a U.S. servicemember is killed in the line of duty, the family hangs a banner with a gold star in their window. The U.S. Department of Defense also awards surviving spouses and next of kin Gold Star pins.

This Tuesday, November 9, all Georgia fathers of servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice are invited to replace their social media profile photo with a photo of their fallen child.

This is the fourth year that Georgia has observed Gold Star Fathers Day, which also falls on Veterans Day and the Marine Corps Birthday. However, it is not yet recognized as a national holiday, said State Rep. Rhonda Burnough.

“It’s inconceivable that Gold Star Fathers still don’t receive the same recognition for their sacrifice as Gold Star Mothers and families,” says Rep. Burnough. “My colleagues and I will continue the important work of recognizing Gold Star Fathers nationally. We ask anyone who supports this effort to contact their Congressperson and ask that they support H.R. 706.”

The state’s first Gold Star Father Recognition Event was held on Nov. 9, 2017 in the Capitol Rotunda, where over 40 fathers gathered to honor their fallen hero. However, due to COVID-19 concerns, this is the second year the event will not take place under the Gold Dome.

“Every day that any Gold Star Father’s fallen hero is not with them, is a solemn day,” Burnough said. “I want Georgia’s Gold Star Fathers to know that I haven’t forgotten about them or their sacrifice. I remain with them in spirit and my prayers for them and their families continue. We introduced Georgia Gold Star Father Day to provide a space for these men to bond and share stories about their loved one, similar to the forums provided to Gold Star Mothers and families. We respectfully encourage any Gold Star Father who reads this, no matter where they reside, to change their social media profile picture to a photo of their fallen hero, and post any sentiments lifting them up on our Facebook page(@GeorgiaGoldStarFatherDay) on Tuesday, November 9.”

Clayton County’s U.S. Army casualties in WWII. KIA means “killed in action.” DNB means “died non-battle” while on active duty. DOW means “died of wounds” from battle. FOD means a legal “finding of death” but that no body was recovered.

History of the holiday

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., founded by Grace Darling Siebold, gave mothers of fallen servicemembers a source of support. Siebold founded American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. after her son, George, was killed in action during World War I. The organization provides support to mothers who lost their children in the course of military service and helps care for veterans who are hospitalized.

In 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Gold Star Fathers Act, giving fathers of fallen or previously disabled servicemembers the same benefits as Gold Star Mothers.

In 2019, Congressman Hank Johnson drafted bipartisan legislation to make Gold Star Father Day a national day of remembrance. House Resolution 706 was based on State Rep. Burnough’s Georgia House Resolution 655, which passed with unanimous bipartisan support in 2018. Also in 2018, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators passed Resolution MVA-19-20 supporting the annual observance.

The gold star represents a family member who has died in the line of duty while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Gold stars may be seen on service flags or Gold Star Lapel Buttons awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

In January, Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller met with Gold Star families to learn how to help them better and established the DOD Casualty Assistance Task Force.

Gold Star fathers, mothers, and families are honored throughout the country year-round.

For more information on Georgia Gold Star Father Day, visit www.georgiagoldstarfathers.com.

Army Spc. Anthony Marquis Lightfoot of Riverdale gave his life on July 20, 2009 during Operation Enduring Freedom. You can add your loved one’s photo at GoldStarFamilyRegistry.com

Gold Star Resources by Service Branch

Army

Navy

Air Force

Marines

Coast Guard

Learn about the special status of U.S. Merchant Marines killed in action in World War Two

Wartime Casualties (Killed, Wounded, Missing, Prisoners Released)

You can search all wartime casualties on the Defense Casualty Analysis System from World War One through Operation Freedom’s Sentinel at https://dcas.dmdc.osd.mil/dcas/pages/casualties.xhtml


The Clayton Crescent salutes Gold Star Fathers and all survivors who have lost a loved one in the course of active military service.


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