Nearly 100 years ago, 1st Lt. George Vaughn Seibold was an aviator who flew in support of The Great War efforts. Since our United States did not have aviation assets to support the war effort, George joined other aviators who trained and flew for one of our allies — Great Britain.
The young lieutenant was careful to send letters home to his parents, Mr. George G. and Mrs. Grace Darling Seibold, who lived in Washington, D.C.
When the letters quit arriving, Mrs. Seibold convinced herself that her beloved son was coming home with the war-wounded to Walter Reed General Hospital. With selfish thoughts, she went to Walter Reed every day, believing that young George, should he be among the war-wounded, would not have any form of identification and she wanted to be there to find him.
The Walter Reed staff, weary from an eager mother hanging around, did what comes natural for any hospital staff — they put her to work! Grace Darling Seibold continued caring for the wounded and the sick after they were transferred from the European combat zone.
When the letter finally arrived with the feared news that 1st Lt. George Vaughn Seibold had been confirmed shot down and there were no remains, Mrs. Seibold continued working to care for the war-wounded. Soon, she sought out Washington, D.C., mothers who were in her similar situation — the Blue Service Star that hung in their window had turned Gold. They all mourned the loss of their sons.
Turning their sorrow into service, Grace encouraged the mothers to do what she was doing — continue the service that their fallen sons could not complete.
A new purpose was born. The women realized that self-contained pity is self-destructive.
In 1928, after years of planning, those 25 Washington, D.C., women met and formed American Gold Star Mothers, named for the Gold Service Stars that hung in the windows of the families who had a family member who had paid the ultimate sacrifice.
By the next year, the organization was incorporated under the laws of Washington, D.C. Chapters were growing throughout the United States and many Gold Star Mothers joined the National Organization of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. — a Veterans Service Organization.
The success of our organization continues because of the bond of mutual love, sympathy and support for one another. Although we grieve for the loss of our fallen sons and daughters, we are a resilient and strong group of patriotic mothers who, while sharing our grief and our pride, have channeled our time and talents to lessen the pain of others.
We stand tall and proud by honoring our children, and serving our veterans, their families and our communities.
Although we are a small organization (approximately 1,200 members), we are a time-honored tradition of strong irrepressible mothers who have a lost a son or daughter in active military service to our nation.
Our losses are different. We are mothers of combat deaths, training-accident deaths, illness, and yes, even suicides. We are an organization of mothers who have lost a son or a daughter (no matter the cause of death) who died while serving our great nation.
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., is a member of the Veterans Administration Voluntary Service Advisory Board. Nearly all of the members of American Gold Star Mothers throughout the United States provide many hours of volunteer work and personal service to veterans, their families, and in their communities. We work closely with all Veterans Service Organizations and appreciate our association with each of them.
In June 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother’s Day. It is a day that has become a time-honored tradition of remembering mothers whose sons and daughters made the supreme sacrifice for our country.
All too many mothers suffer the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child while they are selflessly serving our country. The least our country can do is to continue honoring Gold Star Mothers on a special day — it communicates the message that we will not forget their son or daughter.
• Candy Martin is the national president of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. She is a combat veteran, having served in Iraq from 2005-2006. She retired in 2013 from the U.S. Army as a Chief Warrant Officer Five.