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Group wants day to honor wounded troops

WASHINGTON — A group designed to assist and recognize wounded troops wants May 1 set aside as a holiday to remember those injured servicemembers’ sacrifices.

The Silver Star Families of America has already successfully lobbied 31 states to observe “Silver Star Day” in honor of the wounded fighters, and hopes to get that number into the mid-40s by the end of April.

Work has already begun to get federal recognition by May 1, 2008. “This is a day we want people to stop for a minute, say a prayer, and remember them,” said Steve Newton, a retired Marine and naval reservist who served in the first Gulf War.

The group, founded two years ago, gets its name not from the Silver Star medal for heroism but the World War I tradition of sewing over the Blue Star banner with silver thread when a soldier was injured. Similarly, relatives of troops killed while serving are known as Gold Star families.

While the Purple Heart recognizes troops who are injured in combat, Newton said his group works to recognize any servicemember injured while serving in the military.

“I spoke to one mother in a VA hospital whose son was injured in Iraq when a Humvee slipped while he was changing a tire,” he said. “She told me how everyone came by when he first got there, but as time went on the numbers went down and people forgot him.

“We want to make sure what they have done is never forgotten.”

The organization provides a certificate and a Silver Star banner to every wounded servicemember who requests it, regardless if they are active-duty, reserves or retired military.

But Newton said he hopes setting aside a specific day will help highlight troops’ work to those outside the military community. Already events are scheduled in several cities, and the group is organizing rallies and visits to VA hospitals to emphasize that sacrifice.

“A lot of school teachers have called us to ask about what they can do to tell their students about this,” he said. “That really pulls at the heartstrings, because that’s want we’re hoping for.”

The group also is hoping that more Americans will consider donating a Silver Star flag to wounded troops, or flying the flag on May 1 to show their support of those servicemembers.

For more information on Silver Star Day, or to request a banner for a wounded servicemember, visit www.silverstarfamilies.org.


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