Gold Star Wall at the World War 2 Memorial, Washington DC
The notes on this photo are for the group DCChain
May 2006 Scavenger Hunt
Gold Star Memorial Wall at the World War 2 Memorial. There are 4000 stars each representing 100 lives lost in WW2. The use of the gold star is in honor of the "Gold Star Moms" organization which gave flags with a gold star on to each family who lost a member in the war effort
The National World War II Memorial design recognizes that the site itself pays special tribute to America's WWII generation. The memorial design creates a special place within the vast openness of the National Mall to commemorate the sacrifice and celebrate the victory of WWII, yet remains respectful and sensitive to its historic surroundings. The vistas from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial and the site's park-like setting are preserved, and the double row of elm trees that flank the memorial have been restored. Above all, the design creates a powerful sense of place that is distinct, memorable, evocative and serene
The memorial plaza and Rainbow Pool are the principal design features of the memorial, unifying all other elements. Two flagpoles flying the American flag frame the ceremonial entrance at 17th Street. The bases of granite and bronze are adorned with the military service seals of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Army Air Forces, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. Ceremonial steps and ramps lead from 17th Street into the plaza. A series of 24 bronze bas relief panels along the ceremonial entrance balustrades depict America's war years, at home and overseas. Announcements of the memorial are located at the 17th Street ceremonial entrance.
Curvilinear ramps at the north and south approaches provide access to the plaza for visitors walking along the existing east-west pathways between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. These ramps provide a gentle entry to the plaza. Granite benches follow the curvilinear rampart walls.
Two 43-foot pavilions serve as markers and entries on the north and south ends of the plaza. Bronze baldacchinos are an integral part of the pavilion design. Four bronze columns support four American eagles that hold a suspended victory laurel to memorialize the victory of the WWII generation. Inlayed on the floor of the pavilions are the WWII victory medal surrounded by the years "1941-1945" and the words "Victory on Land," "Victory at Sea," and "Victory in the Air." These sculptural elements celebrate the victory won in the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters.
Fifty-six granite pillars celebrate the unprecedented unity of the nation during WWII. The pillars are connected by a bronze sculpted rope that symbolizes the bonding of the nation. Each state and territory from that period and the District of Columbia is represented by a pillar adorned with oak and wheat bronze wreaths and inscribed with its name; the pillars are arranged in the order of entry into the Union, alternating south to north across the plaza beginning adjacent to the Field of Gold Stars. The 17-foot pillars are open in the center for greater transparency, and ample space between each allows viewing into and across the memorial.
A couple of additional items here…the Oak wreaths represent the industrial complex that the US had developed to help sustain the troops….a strong symbolism…..The Wheat wreaths represent American as bread basket to the world. The open area in each column also signifies the losses of men from their states…to show that every state and territory lost civilians, not just as a way to see thru the memorial
Within a commemorative area at the western side of the memorial is recognized the sacrifice of America's WWII generation and the contribution of our allies. A field of 4,000 sculpted gold stars on the Freedom Wall commemorate the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives. During WWII, the gold star was the symbol of family sacrifice.
Rainbow Pool and Waterworks
The historic waterworks of the Rainbow Pool are completely restored and contribute to the celebratory nature of the memorial. The design provides seating along the pool circumference for visitors. Semi-circular fountains at the base of the two memorial pavilions and waterfalls flanking the Freedom Wall complement the waterworks in the Rainbow Pool.
Two-thirds of the 7.4-acre memorial site is landscaping and water, allowing the memorial to nestle comfortably within its park-like setting. The ceremonial entrance has three large lawn panels between the monumental steps. The elm trees have been restored to their original splendor, and a replanting plan replaced unhealthy trees. A landscaped contemplative area is located at the northwestern corner of the site. Canopies of flowering trees augment re-seeded lawns.
The memorial is constructed of bronze and granite. Granite was chosen
for its aesthetic appeal, superior strength, and durability. Water
resistance was another important criterion. The two principal stones
selected for the memorial are “Kershaw” for the vertical elements and
“Green County” for the main plaza paving stone. “Kershaw” is quarried
in South Carolina, while “Green County” is quarried in Georgia. Two
green stones – “Rio Verde” and “Moss Green” – were used for accent
paving on the plaza. Both are quarried in Brazil. "Academy
Black" and "Mount Airy" were used to reconstruct the
Rainbow Pool. “Mount Airy,” quarried in North Carolina, is the
original coping stone of the Rainbow Pool. To enhance the aesthetic
appearance of the water surface of the pool, an apron of “Academy
Black,” quarried in California, were used for the vertical interior
A History of the "Gold Star Mom's"
On May 28, 1918, President Wilson approved a suggestion made by the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenses that, instead of wearing conventional mourning for relatives who have died in the service of their country, American women should wear a black band on the left arm with a gilt star on the band for each member of the family who has given his life for the nation.
“The Service Flag displayed from homes, places of business, churches, schools, etc., to indicate the number of members of the family or organizations who are serving in the Armed Forces or who have died from such service. Service flags have a deep Blue Star for each living member in the service and a Gold Star for each member who has died.” Thus, the gold Star and the term Gold Star Mother, as applied to mothers whose sons or daughters died in the World Wars, has been accepted.
Often the question has been asked, “Who is a Gold Star Mother?” During the early days of World War I, a Blue Star was used to represent each person, man or woman in the Military Service of the United States. As the war progressed and men were killed in combat, others wounded and died of their wounds or disease, there came about the accepted usage of the Gold Star.
This Gold Star was substituted and superimposed upon the blue Star in such a manner as to entirely cover it. The idea of the Gold Star was that the honor and glory accorded the person for his supreme sacrifice in offering for his country, the last full measure of devotion and pride of the family in this sacrifice, rather than the sense of personal loss which would be represented by the mourning symbols.
On June 4, 1928, a group of twenty-five mothers residing in Washington, DC, met to make plans to organize a national organization to be known as American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., a nondenominational, non-profitable and nonpolitical organization. On January 5, 1929, the organization was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia.
The Charter was kept open for ninety days. At the end of this time they had a membership of sixty-five, which included mothers throughout the United States: North, South, East and West.
There were many small groups of Gold Star Mothers functioning under local and state charters. When these groups learned of a national organization with representation in nearly every State in the Union they wished to affiliate with the larger group and many did so. This group was composed of women who had lost a son or daughter in World War I.
During the 1941 National Convention, the membership was opened to mothers who had lost a son or daughter in World War II and was again opened after the Korean Conflict.
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. is registered in the United States Patent Office, Legislative Branch of the United States Congressional Library and the United States World Book Almanac.
The original copy of the Federal Charter granted to the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. was placed in the Archives of Congress.
One June 12th, 1984 the Ninety-Eighth Congress of the United States granted the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. a charter. Sec. 3 lists the objects and purposes for which the corporation is organized, shall be those provided in its articles of incorporation, and shall include a continuing commitment, on a national basis.
Keep alive and develop the spirit that promoted world services.
Maintain the ties of fellowship born of that service, and to assist and further all patriotic work.
Inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, State, and Nation.
Assist veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, and other strategic areas and their dependents in the presentation of claims to the Veterans’ Administration, and to aid in any way in their power the men and women who served and died or were wounded or incapacitated during hostilities.
Perpetuate the memory of those whose lives were sacrificed in our wars.
Maintain true allegiance to the United States of America.
Inculcate lessons of patriotism and love of country in the communities in which we live.
Inspire respect for the Stars and Stripes in the youth of America.
Extend needful assistance to all Gold Star Mothers and, when possible, to their descendents.
To promote peace and good will for the United States and all other Nations.
This is an organization of mothers whose sons or daughters served and died that this world might be a better place in which to live.
Natural Mothers, who are citizens of the United States of America or of the Territorial and Insular Possessions of the United States of America, whose sons and daughters served and died in line of duty in the Armed Forces of the United States of America or its Allies, or died as a result of injuries sustained in such service, are eligible for membership in American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. Adoptive Mothers and Stepmothers who reared the child from the age of five years whose natural mother is deceased, are also eligible under the above conditions.
The minimum membership of a new Chapter shall be five eligible members. Departments are composed of Chapters within their respective States or such other Chapters as the National Executive Board shall approve.
There are no honorary members. Husbands of a member may be enrolled as an Associate Member, paying no dues, holding no office nor having a vote. There is no form or class of membership except as active membership and dues are paid annually. Members-at-large forward their yearly membership per capita to the Department Treasurer of their state.
A National Convention is held annually at a time and place decided by a preceding convention; or, in the event such time and place is not voted by the National Convention, then it shall be decided by the National Executive board. The purpose of the National Convention is to elect officers for the ensuing year and to transact any and all business as may properly come before it.
American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. is a member of the Advisory Board of the Veterans Administration Voluntary Service. Almost all Chapters of American gold Star Mothers throughout the United States of America give many hours of volunteer work and personal service in all Hospitals for Veterans and to the veteran and his family in their community. The organization works closely with all Veterans’ Organizations.
Proclamation by the President of the United States
Whereas the preamble to Public Resolution 123, 74th Congress, approved June 23, 1936 (40 Stat. 1895), recites:
Whereas the service rendered the United States by the American mother is the greatest source of the Country’s strength and inspiration; and “Whereas we honor ourselves and the mothers of America when we revere and give emphasis to the home as the fountainhead of the State; and
“Whereas the American mother is doing so much for the home and for the moral and spiritual uplift of the people of the United States and hence so much for good government and humanity; and
“Whereas the American Gold Star Mothers suffered the supreme sacrifice of motherhood in the loss of their sons and daughters in World Wars”
and Whereas the said Public Resolution 12 provides:
“That the President of the United States is hereby authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the Government officials to display the United States flag on all Government buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag and to hold appropriate meetings in their homes, churches, or other suitable places, on the last Sunday in September, as public expression of the love, sorrow and reverence of the people of the United States for the American Gold Star Mothers."
“Sec. 2. That the last Sunday in September shall hereafter be designated and known as “Gold Star Mother’s Day,” and it shall be the duty of the President to request its observance as provided for in this resolution.”
The American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
2128 Leroy Place NW - Washington, DC 20008