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Here in the United States the term "gold star mother/father" seems to have grown into much more common use recently. It refers to a parent who has lost a child in military action in service of the United States. How and whe did the term come to have that SPECIFIC connotation rather than just carrying the idea of admirable, or highly praised.

Sidebar: Honestly, it seems a very odd term to me. No doubt parents who have suffered such a terrible loss deserve our sympathy and support. But a gold star is given to someone for a great achievement, not a dreadfully unfortunate loss. Soldiers injured are given a purple heart medal, which seems much more appropriate, conveying as it does the idea of love, affection and support rather than achievement.

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gold star parent wikipedia

(US military) the parent of a U.S. soldier who was killed in action  

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. (AGSM), is a private2 nonprofit organization3 of American mothers who lost sons or daughters in service of the United States Armed Forces. It was originally formed in 1928 for mothers of those lost in World War I, and it holds a congressional charter under Title 36 § 211 of the United States Code.

wikipedia

Gold Star Families for Peace (GSFP) is a United States-based organization founded in January 2005 by individuals who lost family members in the Iraq War, and are thus entitled to display a Gold Star. It is considered an offshoot of Military Families Speak Out. Gold Star Families for Peace now includes more than 65 families of troops killed in Iraq.

wikipedia

Blue and Gold Star flags and their military significance

The gold star is not given. Blue becomes gold upon a soldiers last breath ... and the families capture this star for extra recognition and support.

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A gold star can be given for anything that anyone likes, and is not confined to recognising "achievement". During World War I, a practice developed across the country that families displayed flags featuring a blue star as a sign that a family member was fighting in the war. Some flags would display more than one star. Just how the next tradition began is unclear, but when a soldier died, the blue star was replaced by a gold one. In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson approved a recommendation by the Women's Committee of National Defenses to wear a black armband with a gold star — an update on traditional signs of mourning. It's believed Wilson coined the term "Gold Star Mother."

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  • Interesting -- can you cites sources for your answer?
    – Fraser Orr
    Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 13:57
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    Unless you are in Europe, you can read the LA Times article latimes.com/nation/… but if you are blocked because of GDPR then use Google webcache webcache.googleusercontent.com/… Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 14:06
  • Nice, thanks for the ref. Both great answers, but selected the other since it had a little more info. But did +1 your answer.
    – Fraser Orr
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 16:28

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