Gold Star Family
Memorial Monument

The Bay City Gold Star Family Memorial Monument honors the families of
servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the military.


A Gold Star Families Memorial Monument honoring the families of servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the military was dedicated in Bay City on September 30, 2017. It was the state’s first Gold Star Family Memorial Monument. The monument was developed in cooperation between The Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation and the Bay Veterans Foundation. The Bay Veterans Foundation oversaw the project and worked to raise nearly $100,000 to prep the grounds and bring the monument to Bay City.

The monument, located at Battery Park, looks identical to other Gold Star Family Memorial Monuments scattered across the country, but it has a Michigan presence on it. Each of the monument’s back panels have a specific theme. From left to right, those themes are homeland, family, patriots and sacrifice. The local community had discretion in selecting the images that were etched on the panels to best reflect the community values for those four themes.


The Gold Star has its roots in WWI when families hung small banners in their windows to indicate a serviceman in the military. A Blue Star represented active service and a Gold Star meant the loved one was killed during battle.

​On May 28, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson approved a suggestion made by the Women’s Committee of the Council of the National Defenses that, instead of wearing conventional mourning for relatives who 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 died serving his country.

Grace Darling Seibold is credited for the impetus for the beginnings of Gold Star Mothers after her son Lt. G.V. Seibold was reported killed in combat action in France in 1918. After Grace’s son entered the British Royal Flying Corps (since the United States had neither an air force nor planes) she began personal community service by visiting servicemen in various hospitals.

Upon learning of her son’s death, Mrs. Seibold worked through her sorrow by helping to ease the pain of many servicemen who returned so war-damaged they were incapable of ever reaching normalcy.

Grace, realizing that self-contained grief is self-destructive, devoted her time and efforts to not only working in the hospitals but extending the hand of friendship to other mothers whose sons had lost their lives in military service.

She organized a group of these special mothers, with the purpose of not only comforting each other, but giving loving care to hospitalized confine to government hospitals far from home.

After years of planning, on June 4, 1928, twenty-five mothers met in Washington, DC to establish a national organization, which is non-denominational, non-profitable, and non-political. On January 5, 1929 the organization was incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia.

Called the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. after the gold star banner that had been displayed in windows to honor the deceased veteran, the group is registered in the US Patent Office, Legislative Branch of the United States Congressional Library, and the United States World Almanac. The original charter was placed in the Archives of Congress.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the following proclamation:
“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 Governmental 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 this resolution.”
During the 1942 National Convention of the AGSM, membership was opened to mothers who lost a son or daughter in World War II. It was again opened after the Korean Conflict.

The Gold Star Wives was formed prior to the end of World War II. The Gold Star Lapel Button was established in 1947.

On June 12, 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 organization 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 descendants.
  • To promote peace and good will for the United States and all other Nations.

​Today, through the American Gold Star Mothers organization, recognition of the “supreme sacrifice” has expanded to include not only mothers, but fathers, step-fathers, children/step-children/foster children, and brothers/sisters. Various States have a similar definition or one that approximates these relationships.

Photo Gallery