American Gold Star Mothers from around the state will gather at 2 p.m. Sunday at Mohican State Park’s Memorial Forest Shrine to honor their military sons and daughters killed in action.
The ceremony is conducted on Gold Star Mothers Day annually on the last Sunday in September to honor Ohio’s soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen by placing the names of service members killed in action the previous year in woodbound “Great Books.”
The term Gold Star Mother dates to World War I when, in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson approved, as an official symbol of mourning, a three-inch black arm band with a gold gilt star for mothers who had lost a child in the war.
That tradition led to the covering of the blue star on service flags with a smaller gilt gold star leaving a border of blue showing and the term “Gold Star Mother” became a common phrase. On June 4, 1928, a group of mothers in Washington, D.C., organized the American Gold Star Mothers, which was incorporated Jan. 5, 1929.
In 1936, Congress designated the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother’s Day and in 1996 Ohio followed suit. The Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs raised funds for the Memorial Forest Shrine and dedicated it in 1947.
Trumbull County has also honored its Gold Star Mothers and their children killed in war.
The entire length of state Route 82, part of which is in Trumbull County, is designated as Gold Star Mothers Memorial Highway.
Also, the intersections of state Routes 45 and 82 and U.S. Route 422 and Route 82, are designated Sgt. Robert M. Carr Memorial Interchange and Sgt. Marco Miller Memorial Interchange, respectively.
Carr, son of Christine Wortman of Champion, was killed in Iraq on March 13, 2007, by an improvised explosive device (IED), or roadside bomb.
Miller, son of Rene Miller Daniels and a Warren native, died Dec. 5, 2007, two days after he was injured by an IED.
Wortman said she didn’t know much about the Gold Star Mothers until her son was killed.
Carr, a 2002 Champion High School graduate, was the son and stepson of Christine and Bill Wortman Sr. of Champion and the son and stepson of Jeffrey and Cathy Carr of Fowler. He was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed at age 22.
Shortly after his death, Christine said friends presented her with a Gold Star Banner.
She said she joined the organization as a way to keep her son’s memory alive and to give honor to all those who have lost their lives.
She said Gold Star Mothers members wear white during official events such as Laying of the Roses ceremonies and anything that has to do with fallen sons and daughters.
Some Gold Star Mothers go in a group to military funerals of service members killed in action to lend support to the families.
“I can’t. I tried, but it’s still too hard,” Christine said.
“We don’t wear white to stand out from the crowd, but to remember and honor those who lost their lives serving the country. Wearing white also provides a certain unity among the mothers while expressing their pride and sorrow,” she said.
Christine works as a bartender at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3332 in Newton Falls. “It helps me to work there,” she said. “The members are like family. They help me through the bad days.”