Honoring Gold Star families

The sacrifices made by those who serve in our nation’s armed forces are many. Unfortunately, some of these heroes must lay down their lives so that the American way of life can be preserved. These fallen men and women leave behind family members who must face the remainder of their lives without cherished loved ones.

With that in mind, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have introduced legislation calling upon the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp to recognize and honor “families who have lost a child or family member in service to the nation.” The goal is to acknowledge the sacrifices of these Gold Star family members in a manner that will be seen by many other Americans.

“There is no greater grief than losing a child, spouse or family member, and no greater sacrifice a family can make than losing their loved one in service to our country,” Ernst said in a statement issued by her office. “The Gold Star families commemorative stamp is an opportunity to demonstrate our profound appreciation and respect for all of our fallen service members’ families, and their sacrifices to our country.”

It is particularly fitting that Ernst is leading this effort. Her more than two decades as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard gave her firsthand awareness of the difficulties military life can pose for families. There is, however, more to the story. There is a profound Iowa connection to the saga of Gold Star families.

The last time such a stamp was issued was 70 years ago. According to information provided by Ernst’s office, President Harry S. Truman signed into law legislation establishing the first Gold Star Mothers stamp in 1947. The first sheet of stamps was presented to Alleta Sullivan, of Waterloo, who lost five sons when an enemy torpedo sank the cruiser Juneau on Nov. 13, 1942.That stamp was part of a commemorative series and was only available for a short period of time. The stamp Ernst is championing will be part of the Postal Service’s forever series and will be a permanent U.S. stamp.

“It’s my honor to carry on the tradition by reintroducing the bipartisan Gold Star families commemorative stamp to recognize our Gold Star families, because no one has given more in service to our country than the families of the fallen,” Ernst said.

The Times-Republican applauds this stamp and urges others in Congress to back this legislation.