American Gold Star Mothers (AGSM) organized shortly after World War I to provide support for mothers that lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. This Service Flag had a star for each family member in the military with living servicemen represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives represented by a gold star. Although the AGSM started as an organization of women who had lost sons or daughters in WWI, today membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States. On the last Sunday in September, Gold Star Mother’s Day is observed in the U.S. in their honor.
My Mother’s Aunt Minnie was a Gold Star Mother. Her obituary explains: “during the World War, two of her sons, Drew and Leonard saw active service in the war zone. One of them, Leonard, died while in the service of his country and was buried in France. In 1929 Mrs. Whittemore was one of the Gold Star mothers who made a pilgrimage to France; and the chief joy of her declining years was telling of that trip and showing the mementos which she brought back with her.”
On a recent visit with my cousin Gene we browsed through some old family photographs and came across one of Aunt Minnie in France, at her son’s gravesite. On this memorial day in 2009, I honor Leonard Whittemore and all others who have died in the service of our country, and I also honor Aunt Minnie and all the other Gold Star Mothers who have lost a child in war.
Minnie E. (Boss) Whittemore, France, 1929
Someone has written on the picture:
“Aunt Minnie at son Leonard’s grave in Belgium, World War One”
Aunt Minnie’s explanation on the back of the picture of her at Leonard’s grave.
Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, Washington, May 25, 2009, All rights reserved.
SOURCES: Wikipedia article on Gold Star Mothers, Obituary for Minnie E. Whittemore.