The Meaning Behind License Plates with a Gold Star

source: Youtube/WPRI

We often come across license plates with various symbols and designs, but have you ever noticed one with a gold star on it? It’s not just a random decoration; it carries deep significance. 

A Symbol of Sacrifice

The presence of a Gold Star on a license plate signifies that a family member of the driver has made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of military duty. It’s a solemn reminder of the dedication and character of the fallen service member. But how did this tradition come about?

The History of the Gold Star

The Gold Star program has its roots in the Blue Star program, which was established by World War I Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of the Ohio 5th Infantry in 1917. Captain Queisser’s two sons were serving on the front lines, and he wanted to find a way to honor their commitment and that of all service members.

He designed the “Blue Star Service Banner,” a traditional banner with a white background, a red border, and a blue star in the center, with each star representing a service member. Captain Queisser displayed this banner proudly in his window, setting the stage for others to follow. Soon, military families across Ohio were hanging similar banners in their homes, churches, businesses, and schools.

By September 1917, Ohio formally recognized the Blue Star Service Banner in the Ohio Congressional Record. The banner became a symbol of support for service members and their families.

The Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense proposed a new way to honor fallen service members. They suggested that mothers, in particular, wear a black armband with a gold star for each fallen loved one. Their proposal received approval from President Woodrow Wilson on May 28.


The Formation of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.

A decade later, in 1928, 25 mothers made their way to Washington, D.C., to officially establish American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. These mothers, along with countless other families, made an amendment to the blue-starred service banners by adding gold stars. The gold stars symbolized the sacrifices made by their fallen relatives.

Gold Star Mother’s Day

In 1936, Congress declared the last Sunday of September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day,” a day to honor and remember the mothers who had lost their sons and daughters in service to their country. This day is a testament to the enduring legacy of the blue and gold star programs.

Applying for a Gold Star

If you’re wondering how one can apply for a Gold Star on a license plate, it varies from state to state. Some states allow not only parents, spouses, and siblings but also grandchildren to apply for a Gold Star designation. However, in some states, only spouses, siblings, parents, and children are eligible for this honor. It’s important to check the specific requirements and procedures in your state to apply for a Gold Star.

The story of the Gold Star and how it came from the Blue Star program shows how much we value the dedication and character of our fallen service members. The Gold Star Mothers are the ones who keep this tradition alive, making sure we never forget the sacrifices their loved ones made.