America Supports You: ‘Blue Star Mothers’ Show Support
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2007 While some American homes have only drapes or blinds in the windows, other households also display a unique flag that signifies a family’s support of a son’s or daughter’s service in the military.
Those banners represent an old tradition and are part of Blue Star Mothers of America Inc., a patriotic organization that traces its roots back to World War I, when mothers displayed flags decorated with stars signifying the number of offspring serving in the military.
Gail Cunningham, a resident of Lakewood, N.J., founded New Jersey-based Chapter 1 of the Blue Star Mothers in March 2005. “Blue Star Mothers” banners seen in members’ windows can be obtained through the organization’s Web sites, she said.
“We do support the troops, because those are our sons and daughters,” Cunningham said, noting her son is a medic in the Air Force Reserve.
Cunningham said her chapter is proud to partner with the America Supports You campaign, a Defense Department-sponsored program highlighting the ways Americans are supporting the nation’s servicemembers.
“ASY helps us a lot and posts our events on their Web site,” Cunningham said. In addition, as part of the “Why We Serve” program, ASY will furnish two servicemembers who will talk to New Jersey residents about their experiences in places like Iraq, Afghanistan or the Horn of Africa, she added.
ASY’s grassroots coordinator, Camille Hart, has proved invaluable, Cunningham said.
“Camille is an excellent resource person in finding ways to help us publicize our organization and meet goals,” Cunningham said, “and she also helps us reach out for corporate sponsorship of Blue Star Mothers chapters.”
Blue Star Mothers chapters routinely send care packages, including cakes and cookies, to support U.S. troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the war against terrorism, Cunningham said.
“For Christmas, we sent over 25 packages to Iraq,” she said. “We try to send them something from home.”
Cunningham started the Blue Star Mothers New Jersey chapter after her son enlisted in the Air Force.
“I was expecting his deployment to Iraq, and I needed some kind of support,” Cunningham said. “So, I went on the Internet and searched for a group, and I came upon the Blue Star Mothers.”
There was no New Jersey chapter at that time, Cunningham noted, so she chartered one. Another New Jersey chapter has been established since, she said. Cunningham’s chapter has about 35 members who live statewide.
Cunningham’s husband, Goldsmith, nicknamed “Goldie,” is an associate member of the chapter and an Air Force veteran.
“I have a little insight into what’s going on” regarding military matters, Goldsmith Cunningham said. He added thathis wife and the Blue Star Mothers “are doing an outstanding job” in support of servicemembers and their families.
“We are all family, and we stand by each other,” he said.