Gold Star Mothers Stamp 

U.S. #969 was issued on this day in 1948.

On September 21, 1948, the U.S. Post Office issued the Gold Star Mothers stamp to honor mothers whose sons had been killed in war. It was the first stamp in eight years to feature women (or women’s organizations), and just the 11th stamp overall to do so.

In 1917, Robert Queissner, an Army captain, designed a flag to honor the service of his sons in World War I. The flag had a blue star on a white field, with a red border. It caught on quickly – by September of the same year, Ohio Governor James Cox had adopted it.

Item #4900790 – Gold Star Mothers First Day Proof Card.

This encouraged a group of women to form the “American War Mothers” group in Indiana, and it rapidly spread. Membership included women who had children serving in the war. The flag took on a somber tone when women whose sons died in the war began to sew a gold star over the blue one.

In May 1918, the Women’s Committee of National Defenses proposed to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson that mothers who had lost a family member to the conflict wear a black band with a gold star. Wilson agreed, and called them “Gold Star Mothers.”

In 1928, a group of 25 mothers met to organize the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. Open to any mother whose son or daughter has died in the line of duty or from wounds sustained in such service, this organization now has chapters in all fifty states and continues to work closely with all veterans’ organizations.

In 1929, Congress authorized funds to enable Gold Star Mothers to travel to the battlefields of Europe to visit the gravesites of their fallen family members. Over the next three years, 6,692 women made the journey.

U.S. #969 FDC – Gold Star Mothers First Day Cover.

During World War II, women again began to display the blue star flags, often hanging them in a window to indicate a son or daughter was in service overseas. In November 1942, Tom and Alletta Sullivan of Waterloo, Iowa, lost all five of their sons after a Japanese submarine sunk the USS Juneau, on which they all served.

U.S. #2765i from the 1943: Turning the Tide WWII stamp sheet.

News of the family’s loss made national news. President Franklin Roosevelt sent a letter of condolence, and Pope Pius XII sent a silver religious medal and rosary. Later in 1944, a movie was released called The Sullivans. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Two U.S. Navy ships have been named The Sullivans in honor of the family’s sacrifice. When this stamp was issued on September 21, 1948, the first sheet of stamps was presented to Alletta Sullivan, as a Gold Star Mother.

U.S. #2765i – Gold Star Mothers Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

In 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mothers Day. This year Gold Star Mothers Day is September 24.

Click here to visit the Gold Star Mothers website.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. I saw this stamp but lost in other hundreds of stamps. Now I understand the significance of this stamp. I wonder why mother is only given importance. Fathers too feel proud with success of their children and feel pain with their loss. In society father is given less prominence than mother. Never understood why it is so.

    1. Mothers go through 9 months of discomfort and the frequent pain of delivery. To have the sudden loss of that child added to that brings pain beyond what most of us can imagine.

  2. What a perfect idea. Americans seem to celebate the warrior but neglect the mother’s of sons,daughters and husbands and children that will never be born. Who knows what a mother feels when her precious child is taken to soon and we forget these women and their unseen tears. We must be strong as they say. This holiday should be tauted as any other solemn remembrance day.

  3. Fathers go through a lot also. The changing of the Mother’s hormones and changing
    of her personality on an almost daily basis and his constant worrying about his wife
    and unborn child. Dr. don’t try to diminish the Father’s role in rearing the child to

  4. “My father established our relationship when I was seven years old. He looked at me and said, ‘You know, I brought you in this world, and I can take you out. And it don’t make no difference to me, I’ll make another one look just like you’.” – Bill Cosby

  5. I saw the movie about the Sullivan brothers many years ago on TV. After their death the Navy changed regulations to keep such a disaster from happening to another family by limiting the numbers of family members who could serve on the same ship (though I confess I don’t know exactly what the specifications were).

  6. Unfortunately I am a Gold Star mother. I lost my oldest son, my hero. SSgt William J. Culp II on May 23, 2008.
    My world was changed forever. I miss him every day. I miss the wonderful man he was.
    My family hasn’t been the same since he has been gone.

  7. To Dom: Your father was way wrong. No matter how many children you have, every one of them is different. Even twins are different no matter how much you think they are the same.

    My granddaughter served in this latest “conflict” and she came home different, and in some ways better. But I hope they don’t recall her.

  8. To say that this is the first stamp in eleven years is wrong. On July 19, 1948 the Post Office issued the Progress of Women stamp, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, NY. On the stamp is Elizabeth Lady Stanton and Lucretia Mott who organized the convention, issuing the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments which included woman’s suffrage. Also on the stamp is Carrie Chapman Catt who led the National American Women’s Suffrage Association after Susan B. Anthony had died. It was under her leadership that the 19th Amendment was ratified. None of that takes away from the women whose sons and daughters were killed in World War II.

  9. Wonderful stories, my grandmother had seven boys, six served in WW2, all saw action on the battlefield and on the sea, fortunately all returned, no gold stars, Bill in San Diego, Ca.

  10. I believe if politians want war, let them send their children first to it and then we will see how many more wars will happen!

  11. A Great Nation shouldn’t glamorize war, but the temptation is always there, and novelists, film makers, and many others try their best to put a different face on the human tragedy. Yet, when the nation, our nation, truly gets it right and ennobles the fallen and thoughtfully acknowledges the pain and losses to others from such sacrifices, we do become a greater nation, indeed.

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