Sunday, September 28, 2008

Every Day Heroes - Gold Star Mothers

Gold Star Mother's Day, 2008

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

Throughout our history, the men and women of the Armed Forces have put our Nation's security before their own, doing their duty in the face of grave danger. On Gold Star Mother's Day, we pay solemn tribute to the mothers of the patriots lost serving this great Nation.

Gold Star Mothers inspire our Nation with their deep devotion to family and country. These extraordinary women serve their communities, dedicate their time to helping members of our Armed Forces and veterans, and bring comfort and hope to families whose loved ones laid down their lives in the defense of our liberty. Nothing can compensate for their sacrifice and loss, yet Gold Star Mothers demonstrate tremendous courage and resolve while working to preserve the memory and legacy of all our fallen heroes.

On this day, we honor our country's Gold Star Mothers and remember their sons' and daughters' noble service and great sacrifice. We offer them our deepest gratitude and our most profound respect, and we ask for God's blessings to be upon them and their families.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 115 of June 23, 1936 (49 Stat. 1895 as amended), has designated the last Sunday in September as "Gold Star Mother's Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in its observance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Sunday, September 28, 2008, as Gold Star Mother's Day. I call upon all Government officials to display the flag of the United States over Government buildings on this special day. I also encourage the American people to display the flag and hold appropriate ceremonies as a public expression of our Nation's sympathy and respect for our Gold Star Mothers.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.




When the United States entered World War I in 1917, George Vaughn Seibold, 23, volunteered, requesting assignment in aviation. He was sent to Canada where he learned to fly British planes since the United States had neither an air force nor planes. Deployed to England, he was assigned to the British Royal Flying Corps, 148th Aero Squadron. With his squadron, he left for combat duty in France. He corresponded with his family regularly. His mother, Grace Darling Seibold, began to do community service by visiting returning servicemen in the hospitals.

The mail from George stopped. Since all aviators were under British control and authority, the United States could not help the Seibold family with any information about their son.

Christmas Eve, 1918, the postman delivered a package to the Washington, DC residence of George and Grace Seibold. The package was marked, "Effects of Deceased Officer, First Lieutenant George Vaughn Seibold, Attached to the 148th Squadron, BRFC." No other information was provided.

Grace continued to visit hospitalized veterans in the Washington area, clinging to the hope that her son might have been injured and returned to the United States without any identification. While working through her sorrow, she helped ease the pain of the many servicemen who returned so war-damaged that they were incapable of ever reaching normalcy.

Grace Darling Seibold
Grace Darling Seibold

After months of inquiry, the family received official notice. "George was killed in aerial combat during the heaviest fighting over Baupaume, France, August 26, 1918." His body was never recovered.

Grace, realizing that self-contained grief is self-destructive, devoted her time and efforts to not only working in the hospital but extending the hand of friendship to other mothers whose sons had lost their lives in military service.

She organized a group consisting solely of these special mothers, with the purpose of not only comforting each other, but giving loving care to hospitalized veterans confined in government hospitals far from home.

The organization was named after the Gold Star that families hung in their windows in honor of the deceased veteran.

After years of planning, June 4, 1928, twenty-five mothers met in Washington, DC to establish the national organization, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.

The success of our organization continues because of the bond of mutual love, sympathy, and support of the many loyal, capable, and patriotic mothers who while sharing their grief and their pride, have channeled their time, efforts and gifts to lessening the pain of others. (There IS more, and you can find that here.)

GSM statue with roses at unveling, Putnam_450.jpg (54036 bytes)


GSMMemorialDedicationKentNY.gif (4052 bytes)

July 2, 2006, Kent, NY

Peter Allegretta_sm.jpg (15009 bytes)
Peter Allegretta

In 2002, Peter Allegretta, a USMC veteran and president of the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council (NY) accepted the task of creating a monument to honor Gold Star Mothers. Allegretta’s introduction to Gold Star Mothers was when his childhood friend, Howard Bruckner was killed in Vietnam. The planned monument was to be a stone with a small plaque attached. It would be like any other monument to Gold Star Mothers that dot the countryside since the first monuments of the 1930’s. What happened next is an amazing story. A Vietnam veteran, Fred Waterman met Peter and became interested in the project. Waterman was in the same platoon with Howard Bruckner when Bruckner was killed in Vietnam!! Fred felt the “Mom’s” deserved better than the planned single stone monument; he proposed a grand, classical bronze statue be created to properly honor Gold Star Mothers. It would be the first of its kind, and Waterman knew just the sculptor to do the job. Waterman’s Army buddy, Andrew L. Chernak, who was Bruckner’s replacement in Vietnam, was asked to sculpt the first Gold Star Mothers monument.

The first official meeting of the statue committee was in February 2003, in Carmel, Putnam County NY. Gold Star Mother President, Dorothy Oxendine and Pat Butcher were present. There were two designs submitted for the Gold Star Mother memorial. Chernak’s proposed design was of a WWII mother for two reasons. First, it would eliminate discussion whether or not the statue would be a Vietnam, Korea, or current day mother. Secondly, WWII saw the greatest number of Gold Star Mothers. The statue would be of a mother, tears flowing, looking off to memories of her child. Grief stricken and unsteady, she braces herself with one hand on a plant stand at her side. The hand grasps the Western Union telegram read with disbelief a moment before. The table top has a photo of a serviceman and a flower pot knocked to its side, teetering at the table’s edge. The second design presented by another attendee was a copy of a movie scene with a mother lying on a porch in tears. Chernak’s design was chosen by Dorothy Oxendine for the dignity and strength that co-existed with the grief and sorrow. (go here to read more of this amazing story!)

Peter Allegretta, Mrs. Bruckner, Ann Wolcott_450.jpg (80056 bytes)

Peter Allegretta and 2 Gold Star Moms await the unveiling of the Statue.

I do not have enough words to share for all that Gold Star Mothers mean to me. Those Gold Star Mothers I am now blessed to know and count as friends, know exactly what respect, love and gratitude I hold in my heart for each of them.

To me, they ARE - and will always be - MY Every Day Heroes.

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