Spouse Calls: Helping us remember the fallen
Stars and Stripes November 9, 2008
Q. As a widow of a U.S. Marine, I am looking for a supplier who sells or makes remembrance items for widows, such as car decals, pins, hats, T-shirts, etc.
I want the world to know what a tremendous sacrifice my husband made for the rest of us, but how can I share his sacrifice with everyone? Does anyone know of such a company?
— Julie Painter, Atlanta
P.S. Thanks to all the veterans who gave so much for our country; you are appreciated immensely.
A. I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband, Julie. I can appreciate your desire to remember his sacrifice in a tangible way.
One traditional way of honoring your husband is by displaying a Gold Star flag at your home. The practice began during World War I.
Families who had a member serving in the military displayed distinctive banners: white, with a red border and a blue star. A gold star indicated a family member had been killed in action.
These banners are still in use, and some organizations, such as ServiceFlags.com, provide Gold Star flags free to bereaved families.
Gold Star pins are awarded by the Department of Defense to relatives of servicemembers killed in specific areas of conflict. You can find information about the pins and how to get one on www.goldstarmoms.com. Although Gold Star Mothers, an organization of mothers of fallen servicemen and women, does not distribute the pins, their site has detailed instructions for requesting them.
Since you mentioned car decals, I checked in your state and found that Georgia offers a special Gold Star license plate for families who have lost a loved one in service to our country. For these plates, Georgia only requires payment of the ad valorem tax, according to the Georgia Department of Revenue.
In fact, more than half of the states in the U.S. currently offer Gold Star plates for both parents and spouses of fallen servicemembers. I have posted a link on the Spouse Calls blog to a list of all the states offering plates as well as those with legislation pending to offer them.
Another possible source for remembrance items is the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. This program is designed to reach out to bereaved military families, offering various types of grief support and crisis intervention free of charge. The TAPS Web site, www.taps.org, offers items, such as bracelets and tote bags, sales of which benefit the TAPS program.
I hope some of this information is helpful to you, Julie.
I just wanted to drop you a line and say thank you for everything you do.
I work for the National Veterans Foundation, and for the past 22 years, our toll-free Lifeline has provided crisis management, information and referral to all veterans and their families.
Our staff of veterans, with experience ranging from Vietnam to Iraq, is trained in the delivery of information and referral services. All crisis calls are routed to a licensed counselor.
I hope that we can help you in any way if you ever need it.
— Cat RotunnoDirector of Communications, National Veterans Foundation
Thank you for your letter and for the information, Cat.
The National Veterans Foundation is a non-profit organization. Their hotline is 1-888-777-4443. More information is available at www.nvf.org.
See the Spouse Calls blog for links to this and other resources for veterans and bereaved families.
Veterans Day is a day to remember all those who serve and sacrifice, including military families. In the words of John Milton: "They also serve who only stand and wait."
Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at email@example.com and see the Spouse Calls blog here.