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Honoring Our Gold Star Mothers

Rep. Jon D. Fox

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to our Gold Star Mothers who have suffered the terrible losses of their sons and daughters for the defense of our nation. These young men and women were in the prime of life, full of hope and youthful promise, when they died defending their country and preserving our freedom.

Their loss was and is heart-breaking for the families and friends left behind. And--enjoying the long period of peace and freedom that these young American service men and women bought so dearly--we are in danger of forgetting their great sacrifice.

But there is one group of fine Americans who are uniquely able to make sure that the rest of us do not forget. They are the Gold Star Mothers. Each one lost a child who died in the military service of our country during this of war.

I am proud and grateful that we have a strong and active group of Gold Star Mothers in the Delaware Valley region including the 13th District of Pennsylvania which I represent in Congress.

The cast of ``Reflections'' is composed of students from Erdenheim Elementary School in Springfield Township, Montgomery County and students from Upper Dublin High School from Fort Washington, Pennsylvania as well as students from Thomas Edison and Olney High Schools in Philadelphia. The play is a retrospective of our patriotism and a testament to the sacrifices our country has asked of its mothers.

The Play was written, produced and directed by one of my constituents, Vietnam Veteran Frank ``Bud'' Kowalewski. I commend his tireless work in offering our young people the opportunity to honor lost lives, and teaching them the nature of valor and patriotism. The play strives to educate the nation on the sacrifices made by Gold Star Mothers. I congratulate the cast on their achievements in reminding us all the true reason we celebrate Memorial Day in America.

On May 21st, 1998, the cast, dressed in historical period costumes, will accompany a local Gold Star Mother on a trip to Buffalo, New York. There, the cast will perform with students from Riverside High School in their Memorial Day Assembly. This production--``Reflections Going Home''--is dedicated as a Mother's Day Card Gold Card to all Gold Star Mothers.

Previously, the troupe has traveled to our nation's capital where they laid a wreath at the Vietnam War Memorial on the National Mall and were honored by Congress just last year.

The Gold Star Mothers are part of a group that had its roots in the first great conflict of the 20th Century--World War I. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that service flags would be displayed at homes that had family members serving the country. Blue Stars were displayed for each family member in the Armed Forces. And, as the war progressed and casualties mounted, the stars were turned to Gold Stars to represent each service member killed defending our country.

The Gold Star Mothers were officially organized in Washington, DC, in 1929. But one does not have to be a formal member of the national organization to be a Gold Star Mother. The standard for entering this revered group of Americans is much, much higher and more difficult than simply joining an organization. One must have had a child who made the supreme sacrifice for our country. It is a non-profit, non-political organization which was first organized by 25 mothers in June 1928 an was incorporated on January 5, 1929. In 1936 Congress--in a joint resolution--designated the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother's Day. In 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt further recognized the day.

These Gold Star Mothers, perhaps better than anyone else, know the agony that comes from caring for, nurturing, and raising up a child only to see that young life lost just as it is beginning. But these fine Americans deserve the greatest admiration, thanks and respect from all of us and I find it remarkable that this group of courageous women is that they refuse to allow their grief to become the victor. Instead, they chose to channel their pain and suffering into productive work to benefit veterans and the community at large.

These ladies whose loved ones did not make it home devote themselves to caring for and helping those who did. In a supreme act of love and concern for others, many Gold Star Mothers dedicate themselves to helping the children of other mothers, children who survived war. Gold Star Mothers assist in all manner of ways. They visit veterans' hospitals to help service people there. They take part in patriotic observances that help all of us remember the sacrifices that bought our freedom.

But the Gold Star Mothers did not stop there. They wanted to expand their opportunities to assist veterans and their families and sought a Congressional Charter so they could work in veterans' hospitals throughout the country. Their charter was granted in 1984 and outlines the objectives and purposes for which they were organized including; (1) assisting all veterans and their dependents in claims to the U.S. Veterans Administration, (2) inspiring respect for our flag, the Stars and Stripes, (3) encouraging a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and Union; and (4) perpetuating the memory of those whose lives were sacrificed in our nation's wars.

I salute the Gold Star Mothers of the Thirteenth Congressional District, the entire Greater Philadelphia area and the Nation as a whole. Starting with just 25 members, Gold Star Mothers grew quickly and today has members from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. All of us should be grateful that our Nation produces men and women with the courage and dedication to make the supreme sacrifice so that we might be free. We should be thankful too that our Nation has mothers whose courage and compassion help make those sacrifices worth it and--in the most special way--make sure that the memory of those who died for our country lives on.

God bless the Gold Star Mothers. We humbly offer our tears, humility and gratitude as a nation. We pray there will be no more lives unnecessarily lost and no more tears. God love and protect all of our brave soldiers in this great Nation.