The term "Gold Star" describes a family member who has lost a loved one in military service.
The Gold Star first made an appearance during World War I after being placed over a service flag's blue star when a service member was killed in combat. The Gold Star signified the family's pride in the loved one's sacrifice rather than mourning their personal loss.
Many Gold Star families wear the Gold Star lapel pin to signify their pride. The lapel pin displays a Gold Star with a purple background surrounded by a gold wreath and first made its appearance during World War I.
Why They are Recognized
A Gold Star Family can display a Gold Star Service Flag for service members who were killed or died, while serving in the Armed Forces, from causes other than dishonorable. The number of gold stars on the flag corresponds to with the number of individuals who were killed or died. A gold star is placed over the blue star on a Blue Star Service Flag so that the blue forms a border and creates GoldStar Service Flag.
The U.S. Department of Defense also issues Gold Star lapel pins to immediate family members of a fallen service member of the military. These pins are worn by spouses, parents, and children of service members killed in the line of duty and contain a gold star on a purple circular background.