America Supports You: Communities Sign On for Annual Observance
By Sharon Foster
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 10, 2008 Two years ago, Steve Newton, founder of Silver Star Families of America, asked the governors of all 50 states and the mayor of the District of Columbia to sign a proclamation to observe May 1 as Silver Star Banner Day, honoring wounded and ill servicemembers from all wars.
“We asked the governors to make this day a permanent and official day of observance each year thereafter,” Newton said. “This is a community outreach program that can be implemented by each governor to benefit the wounded and ill troop population in this unique way.”
Governors held ceremonies honoring wounded and ill servicemembers, Newton said, but the news was not always reaching small cities and towns. They, too, wanted to get involved.
“We started to get feedback, and many mayors wondered why we did not include their cities and towns in this event,” Newton said. “They were not able to go to the state capital, but they wanted to do something in their own community.”
That feedback led Newton to reach out to 5,000 cities and towns -- 100 per state -- across the nation in preparation for next year’s Silver Star Banner Day.
“We want to get down to the grassroots level and have local communities honor their wounded and ill, as well,” Newton explained. “At the same time, we wish to send the nation’s largest thank you.”
May 1 was chosen for this recurring event because it is Loyalty Day and the first day of Military Appreciation Month, Newton said.
A Silver Star Families of America committee contacts city clerks and mayors to inform them of the event and to ask for their participation. When they agree, they receive a proclamation letter to sign. To date, nearly 60 cities in 18 states have signed on to observe Silver Star Banner Day in 2009 and thereafter. The organization’s Web site, www.silverstarfamilies.org, is the place to start for people who want to ensure their community has the opportunity to participate.
“It is amazing the outpouring of admiration for our wounded and ill,” Newton said. “The general response from the cities has been, ‘We are honored to be included in this endeavor.’”
Newton said he hopes this event will let all servicemembers know that “we have not forgotten them and never will.”
“Their love of country and sacrifice will remain alive in our hearts,” he said, “and the Silver Star Families of America will always be here to make sure we never forget.”
Silver Star Families of America is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.