The Delaware Department of Transportation announced Sept. 25 the rededication of U.S. 202 from the Delaware/Pennsylvania line south to the Interstate 95 interchange as the Gold Star Highway.

Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan and Gov. John Carney made the announcement to an assembled audience within the sculpture garden of the Blue Ball Barn. Formalizing the event, Carney proclaimed Sept. 25 as Delaware Gold Star Mothers’ and Families’ Day.

For nearly 100 years, inclusion has been earned for losing an immediate family member serving during war/conflict. A gold star lapel button is issued to immediate family members of those who have lost their lives in the defense of democracy during World Wars I and II and any subsequent armed hostilities in which the U.S. became engaged. The button is also issued for act of terrorism deaths. Formal recognition of these families was launched in 1947 by an act of Congress. The next of kin lapel button was authorized retroactive to March 29, 1973, for those who lost their lives while serving on active duty in other than a combat theatre or act of terrorism.

While several organizations representing gold star family members have been established in memory of those who died for their country, respecting the privacy of families, there are no public records on how many gold star families there are. However, more than 6,000 U.S. service members have died in the conflicts within Iraq and Afghanistan alone.

In 2006, American gold star sibling Judy C. Campbell approached Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 83 to express her appreciation for all the chapter does within the community. However, she also expressed her concern there was nothing being done to honor and recognize gold star families that reside in Delaware. As a result, the goal of the newly formed VVA Chapter 83’s Gold Star Program was established to honor and recognize the gold star families that reside in Delaware, recognizing the supreme sacrifice made to secure democracy.