U.S. 202 Rededicated as the Gold Star Highway in Honor of Families of Soldiers who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice for Their Country

Images Courtesy of Delaware Gold Star Families
Article Courtesy of Delaware Department of Transportation

Wilmington- (New Castle County) – The DelawareDepartment of Transportation (DelDOT) announced today the rededication of U.S. 202 from the Delaware/ Pennsylvania line south to the I 95 interchange as the Gold Star Highway. Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan along with Governor John Carney made the announcement to an assembled audience within the sculpture garden of the Blue Ball Barn. Formalizing the event, the Governor proclaimed Monday, September 25, 2017 as “Delaware Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day”.

CNN has described the Gold Star designation as a venerated status that no one wants. For nearly 100 years, inclusion has been earned for losing an immediate family member serving during war/conflict. A Gold Star Lapel Button is issued to immediate family members of those who have lost their lives in the defense of democracy during WWI and II, and any subsequent armed hostilities in which the United States became engaged. It is also issued for Act of Terrorism deaths. Formal recognition of these families was launched in 1947 by an Act of Congress. The Next of Kin Lapel Button was authorized retroactive to March 29, 1973, for those who lost their lives while serving on active duty in other than a combat theatre or act of terrorism.

Reading from his proclamation, Governor Carney said, “Gold Star Families have suffered tremendous loss; it is the duty of our State and Nation to bring honor and remembrance to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as well as those who remain behind – continuing to live graciously in their absence.” The Governor continued, “the State of Delaware offers sincere gratitude to Gold Star Family members while honoring the tremendous sacrifices their loved ones made in order to protect and secure the freedoms and liberties that Delawareans enjoy each and every day. I call on all individuals throughout the State to join in commemorating those who lost their lives, while supporting their loved ones who continue to live in our midst.”

“The Gold Star Highway will serve as a daily reminder of the wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and other family members who lost a loved one in service to our nation,” Secretary Cohan said. “We know that naming a road cannot diminish the loss that Gold Star Families have endured, but we do hope that our actions here today will convey the profound respect we have for their sacrifice. As we hope we demonstrated on Sept. 15 when we dedicated the POW / MIA Parkway in Dover, the state of Delaware honors the service and the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.”

While several organizations representing Gold Star family members have been established in memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, respecting the privacy of families, there are no public records on how many Gold Star Families there are. However, over 6,000 United States service members have died in the conflicts within Iraq and Afghanistan alone.

First observed in 1936 as Gold Star Mothers’ Day, the last Sunday of September is now observed as Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day.

Those immediate family members eligible as a gold family member include: widow, widower, mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, mother through adoption, father through adoption, foster mother in loco parentis, foster father in loco parentis, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, son by adoption, daughter by adoption, brother, sister, half-brother, and half-sister.

Larence Kirby, Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs said, “My most poignant memory about identifying “fallen heroes” at the Port Mortuary (Dover) was ensuring their return home to awaiting families. These loved ones, Gold Star Families, deserved closure and to be reunited with heroes who laid down their lives, defending our freedoms.”

In 2006, American Gold Star Sibling, Judy C. Campbell, approached VVA Chapter 83 to express her appreciation for all the chapter does within the community. However, she also expressed her concern there was nothing being done to honor and recognize Gold Star Families that reside in Delaware. As a result, the goal of the newly formed VVA Chapter 83’s Gold Star Program was established to honor and recognize the Gold Star Families that reside in Delaware, recognizing the supreme sacrifice made to secure democracy.

Concluding the celebration Judy Campbell told the group, “the work we do is the model for other states to follow, ‘lest we never forget.'” As President Harry Truman said, ‘Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.’

View the Proclamation and Gold Star Highway Photos.

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