The statue, by sculptor Andrew Chernak, was dedicated over the weekend in my hometown of Manchester, New Hampshire. It is a representation of the Gold Star Mother, a woman who has given her country a gift more precious to her than her own life.
In Manchester, this statue faces Veterans’ Memorial Park. According to the artist, it “…captures the moment after she receives the dreaded Western Union telegram informing her of the loss of her son while in service to our country.
The statue portrays a mother during World War II. She steadies herself on a plant stand bearing a photograph of her son and a toppled plant, symbolizing her world falling around her. Her face streaming with tears, bears a look of grief and shock. In her far off gaze, she is recalling her precious son's life and all that it held, now forever gone from her.”
May is the month to remember Mothers and May is the month to remember our fallen. It seemed appropriate to dedicate this space to both.
While the statue portrays the Second World War, the term “Gold Star Mother” actually began in 1918 when President Woodrow Wilson approved a suggestion from the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenses:
“The Service Flag displayed from homes, places of business, churches, schools, etc., to indicate the number of members of the family or organizations who are serving in the Armed Forces or who have died from such service. Service flags have a deep Blue Star for each living member in the service and a Gold Star for each member who has died.”
The practice continued from that time on and, unfortunately, continues today. It has become the social practice to thank men and women in uniform when we see them. It’s a bit more difficult to notice the mothers (and fathers) of those who gave their lives. A statue on the main street of a small New England city isn’t the best way to say thank you, but it’s a start.