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Honoring The Families Of Fallen Heroes

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

This month, I have the honor of presenting the Spirit of Idaho award to the mother of an Idahoan who lost his life serving in Iraq.  She continues his commitment to serving others through a program she created to help meet the needs of active military, veterans and Gold Star families.  Her son's legacy of giving lives on in her work to help service members and their families in his loving memory.   

Families of service members who lost their lives serving our nation are an important part of our communities.  This Memorial Day and every day, as we honor Americans who serve and have died in service to our nation, we cannot forget the sacrifice of the many families who lost loved ones defending our country.

In 1947, Congress acted to establish the Gold Star Lapel Button to provide identification for the families of members of the Armed Forces who lost their lives serving the United States in World War I, World War II and later hostilities.  These Gold Star Pins are a gold star on a purple circular background bordered in gold and surrounded by gold laurel leaves.  They are emblematic of the gold stars families have hung in their windows when they lost their loved ones serving overseas and the gold stars former President Wilson authorized mothers to wear to honor the child they lost in war.

Congress directed the issuance of Gold Star Lapel Buttons to spouses, parents, children and siblings of a member of the Armed Forces who lost his or her life while in active military service.  Later, Congress acted to also provide Next of Kin of Deceased Personnel lapel pins, which are a gold star on a gold background surrounded by four oak sprigs, to the next of kin of service members who lose their lives while serving on active duty or while assigned in an Army Reserve or Army National Guard unit in a drill status.    

Many may have seen these pins and not have recognized the meaning behind them.  The pins represent the love and loss family members of America's service members sustain.  They stood beside their loved ones who served, and they shoulder the price of the defense of our freedom.  They raised children and maintained households while their loved ones were far from home.  They endured sleepless nights worrying about their loved ones serving in harm's way.  They carry the memories of their husbands and wives, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers in their hearts.

As we honor those who have served, we also have the opportunity to thank the families of those who serve with them and carry on their legacy of service and sacrifice.    

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