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US lawmakers propose federal holiday to honor Gold Star families

Gold Star family members hope the legislation passes and the holiday creates awareness about the sacrifice their loved ones and their families have made

TAMPA, Fla. — A group of bipartisan senators has introduced the Gold Star Families Day Act.

It would create a 12th federal holiday to be marked on the last Monday in September. The legislation says the goal is to recognize the sacrifice that Gold Star family members make when a loved one dies while in service to the United States.

American Gold Star Mothers, Incorporated helped draft the legislation.

Jo Ann Maitland is the group's president.  Her son, U.S. Army SPC Richard Hubbell died in December 2002 in a motorcycle accident in Texas.

“People forget. Memorial Day is one day. There's never going to be enough days for us. There's never going to be enough for us to remember because for us it's every day," she said.

She and other gold star mothers say they hope that Gold Star Families Day becomes a federal holiday to bring awareness about who gold star families are and the sacrifice they've made.

The gold star began during World War I. Families would fly flags with blue stars to show an immediate family member was serving in the war. When that loved one died, a gold star replaced the blue to show the community the price the family had paid.

Over the years it has evolved.

To get a sharper insight into what distinguishes a Gold Star family, we turned to Kelly Kowall.

Kowall is a Gold Star mother and the president and founder of My Warrior’s Place Retreat Center in Ruskin. Her son, Army SPC Corey Kowall, lost his life in 2009 while serving in Afghanistan.

"It's now anyone that dies while in service so it doesn't have to be on a battlefield. They all signed on the dotted line and the families were always there to support them no matter what," she said.

She says, no matter the manner of death, if they were serving in our military at the time that means they were willing to give their lives to defend our freedom, and the families are recognized for the sacrifice and loss.

In Tampa, there are two Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments that you can visit. One is at MacDill Park at 100 North Ashley Drive and the other at Franklin Middle Magnet School. Both were dedicated as part of a project led by the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation

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