FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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What's the difference between gold star mothers and American Gold Star Mothers, Inc?
"Gold star mothers" is a term that came into general use with the creation of
the service flags used to show that a family had a son in the service (a blue star) or a son that had died in the service (a gold star almost covering the blue star so that a rim of blue still shows). Mothers of slain servicemen came to be known as gold star mothers.
The phrase is sometimes capitalized but this is incorrect because it is not the proper name of any organization. The phrase is generic and, through customary usage has come to designate any mother whose child has been lost in war.
A group of gold star mothers met in 1928 and formed the organization American Gold Star Mothers, Inc (AGSM). AGSM is a private organization and you must apply for membership if you wish to join. AGSM is also a non-profit, 501 C(3), organization and as such cannot engage in political or lobbying activities. Our members may have their own views which they are free to express, but these opinions are not those of AGSM. The organization takes no position on political issues of the day but does support our military and has many activities that reflect that support. There is more information on our history here.
We are not directly connected with any other organizations but we do communicate with similar organizations which share our purpose.
How do I get the little gold star pin?
The pin is provided by the Defense Dept, not by AGSM. It is available to members of the immediate family of the service member. Get complete details here.
Why hasn't American Gold Star Mothers contacted me since my son or daughter died?
When the military makes its official announcement of a service person's death the next of kin or other relatives are not listed. Also, inquiries to the military will not yield any information that would allow us to find you because of privacy concerns. The military just will not make that information available. If they did, you would probably be contacted, at this most difficult time, by people you do not want to talk to.
Many of our members will watch their local papers for stories about fallen service members and will attempt to locate the mother. They will sometimes attend the service for the service member and leave a card with some contact information so that the mother can contact AGSM when she is ready.
Most veterans groups have contacts with gold star moms and can facilitate contacts between new gold star moms and our organization.
We are very low key because we know you have a process to go through and AGSM is not your first priority. Eventually, either through one of our prior contacts, mutual friends, veterans groups or through this web site, when you're ready, we hope you will contact us but it really has to be on your schedule.
What is a service flag and who can display it?
The service flag may be displayed in a window of the place of residence of persons who are members of the immediate family of a person serving in the Armed Forces of the United States during any period of war or hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United States may be engaged, for the duration of such period of war or hostilities.
The service flag may be displayed by an organization to honor the members of that organization serving in the Armed Forces during similar periods.
Get more information on service
flags and service lapel buttons. To purchase a service flag or service
lapel button go
What is a service lapel button and who can wear it?
The service lapel button may be worn by members of the immediate family of a person serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United States may be engaged, for the duration of such period of war or hostilities.
Note that the regulation service lapel button is very small, only 3/16" x 3/8". There are similar buttons available in larger sizes. Also, the service button is to be worn horizontally and when properly worn will have a point of the star straight up. A one star service banner pin, worn horizontally, will not have its star point straight up.
There are no regulation service lapel buttons with more than one star or other than a blue star. If a gold star is appropriate you may wear the gold star pin and, if you have additional, living service members, the service lapel button also.
Get more information on
service flags and service lapel buttons.
To purchase a service flag or service lapel button go
Is it true that Hillary Clinton refused to meet with a group of American Gold Star Mothers?
No. This story passed through several people before being reported by NewsMax on May 26, 2001 and the details were lost. The two mothers who visited Washington did not have an appointment with the Senator and she was not in her office on that day. The NewsMax article did not get the story correct and we deeply regret the misunderstanding about Senator Hillary Clinton. Senator Clinton greeted us graciously on Gold Star Mothers Sunday, 2005. See pictures on
Is Cindy Sheehan part of your group?
What is a Challenge Coin?
During World War 1, American volunteers from all parts of the country
filled the newly formed flying squadrons. Some were wealthy scions attending
colleges such as Yale and Harvard who quit in mid-term to join the war. In
one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze
and presented them to his unit. One young pilot placed the medallion in a
small leather pouch that he wore about his neck.
Shortly after acquiring the medallion, the pilot's aircraft was severely
damaged by ground fire. He was forced to land behind enemy lines and was
immediately captured by a German patrol. In order to discourage his escape,
the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small
leather pouch around his neck. In the meantime, he was taken to a small
French town near the front. Taking advantage of a bombardment that night, he
escaped. However, he was without personal identification.
He succeeded in avoiding German patrols by donning civilian attire and
reached the front lines. With great difficulty, he crossed no-man's land.
Eventually, he stumbled onto a French outpost. Unfortunately, saboteurs had
plagued the French in the sector. They sometimes masqueraded as civilians
and wore civilian clothes. Not recognizing the young pilot's American
accent, the French thought him to be a saboteur and made ready to execute
him. He had no identification to prove his allegiance, but he did have his
leather pouch containing the medallion. He showed the medallion to his
would-be executioners and one of his French captors recognized the squadron
insignia on the medallion. They delayed his execution long enough for him to
confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him they gave him a bottle of
Back at his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried
their medallion or coin at all times. This was accomplished through
challenge in the following manner - a challenger would ask to see the
medallion. If the challenged could not produce a medallion, he was
required to buy a drink of choice for the member who challenged them. If the
challenged member produced a medallion, then the challenging member was
required to pay for the drink. This tradition continued on throughout the
war and for many years after the war while surviving members of the squadron
were still alive.
American Gold Star Mothers now has their own
How can I start a new AGSM chapter?
If there is no chapter near you, you can start a new one with as few as 5
members. Although the
seems very formal, we are very interested in getting Gold Star Moms together
and will help you through the process and probably send someone to your
first official meeting to present your credentials and have a little fun.