Blue Star Mothers of America
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Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. (BSMA), is a private nonprofit organization in the United States that provides support for mothers who have sons or daughters in active service in the U.S. Armed Forces. It was originally formed during World War II. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in a window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the military. Living servicemen were represented by a Blue Star and those who had lost their lives were represented by a Gold Star. Until 2011, membership in the Blue Star Mothers was open to any woman living in America who has a son or daughter (and in some, but not all cases, step children) in the United States Armed Forces, or who has had a son or daughter in the U.S. Armed Forces who has been honorably discharged.
At the National Convention held August 2010 in Grand Junction, Colorado under the leadership of National President Wendy Hoffman, a resolution was passed that would forever change membership eligibility. The resolution was taken to congress in August 2011 and was signed into law December 13, 2011. It expanded membership opportunities for more women who have supported service members in new conflicts and different family structures.
The law updates the Blue Star Mothers Congressional Charter to: Include grandmothers, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, and female legal guardians; expand membership to mothers whose children have served more recently, by removing references to specific conflicts; and expand membership to eligible mothers living outside of the U.S.
Founding of the Blue Star Mothers
Army Capt. George Maines conceived the idea for the Blue Star Mothers. He ran a newspaper article in Flint, Michigan, in January 1942, requesting information about children serving in the armed forces. More than 1,000 mothers responded. On February 1, 1942 their first meeting was held and more than 600 mothers organized the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. This meeting was reported on in the Flint Journal on February 2, 1942.
The blue star flag was designed and patented by World War I Army Capt. Robert Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry, who had two sons serving on the front line. This flag quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in service.
The Blue Star Mothers' original goals were to bring their sons home, to ensure they received the benefits they deserved, help service members' families, help each other and to be there if something happened. Over the years, the goals have broadened to rehabilitation, hospital work, children's welfare and civil defense.
The largest family of the Blue Star Mothers belonged to Nick and Anna Matthees of rural Goddhue, Minnesota who sent 7 sons (3 Army, 2 Navy, and 2 Army Air Force) to serve during World War II. All 7 survived.
Blue Star Mothers today
Prior to December 2011, membership in the Blue Star Mothers was open to any woman in America whose child is in the United States Armed Forces or who has served in the United States Armed Forces or had an honorable discharge. Stepmothers and adoptive mothers are also now eligible for membership. Blue Star Dads and others who wish to serve BSMA, Inc. may join as Associate Members. Associate members do not vote or pay dues.
At National Convention in 2010, under the leadership of then National President Wendy Hoffman, a resolution was passed by the convention body changing eligibility for membership. The resolution was taken to Capitol Hill and in August 2011 a bill was introduced to Congress, followed soon after by a matching bill in the senate. Both Bills passed and on December 13, 2012, President Obama signed the Act and the eligibility for membership was expanded to include Grandmothers, Foster Mothers, all Step Mothers and female legal guardians. Membership is also now open to American citizens living in other countries.
Blue Star Mothers is made up of local chapters, which are organized into departments in some states. Five members are required to start a local chapter.
Just as when it was founded, the Blue Star Mothers continues to concentrate on providing emotional support to its members, providing support to active military troops, doing volunteer work with veterans in general and veterans' hospitals in particular, and fostering a sense of patriotism and respect for members of the Armed Forces. In addition, local chapters carry out individual projects of their own choosing.
Blue Star Mothers do much more than volunteer in VA hospitals and outreach centers. They work in physical and emotional rehabilitation, help with medical supplies, transportation, food, clothing and friendship, gratitude and love.
Blue Star Mothers do not have a permanent headquarters, so the headquarters travels with the national president. The current National President (2014–15) is Judy Dorsey of Ohio. Convention locations are chosen by the National President each year. Recent conventions have been held in Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, and San Francisco.
There were about 30,000 members during World War II and several thousand during the Korean War and Vietnam War. By July 2006, membership had grown to 164 chapters nationally. As of April 2014, there are over 7,500 members and associates in approximately 200 chapters.
- "TITLE 36—Patriotic and National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations: CHAPTER 305—Blue Star Mothers of American, Inc. § 30504. Membership" (PDF). gpo.gov. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Publishing Office. 12 Aug 1998. Retrieved 10 Apr 2016.
- "TITLE 36—Patriotic and National Observances, Ceremonies, and Organizations: CHAPTER 305—Blue Star Mothers of American, Inc. § 30504. Membership" (PDF). gpo.gov. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Publishing Office. 13 Dec 2011. Retrieved 10 Apr 2016.
- "National Charter Blue Star Mothers of America" (PDF). bluestarmothers.org. Blue Star Mothers of American, Inc. 6 Jan 1960. Retrieved 10 Apr 2016.
- "History of the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc.". bluestarmothers.org. Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. Retrieved 10 Apr 2016.
- http://people.mnhs.org/mgg/story.cfm?storyid=1255&CFID=3765&CFTOKEN=44295749[dead link]
- "Obituary for Harold "John" Matthees". mahnfamilyfuneralhome.com. Mahn Family Funeral Home, Inc. Retrieved 10 Apr 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blue Star Mothers.|
- Official website
- Blue Star Mothers page on Facebook
- U.S. Statutes Incorporating the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc.
- Image of the Blue Star Banner
- Blue Star Mothers of Wisconsin Chapter 2
- Grand Valley Blue Star Mothers Colorado Chapter 4
- Lone Star Chapter 6 of DFW Area of Texas
- Connecticut Blue Star Mothers
- "Rim of the World Blue Star Moms" ~ California Chapter 25
- "Blue Star Mothers H.O.M.E." ~ Corona, California Chapter 30
- Houston Area Chapter