EDITORIAL : New Jersey was one of only three states to not have special license plates honoring those families whose sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and others died protecting us — until today. It may have seemed like a token gesture to some — and it’s a shame the measures weren’t signed in time for Gold Star Mother’s Day last year (Sept. 26), but the ceremonial signing today held tremendous significance.
That’s why Gold Star Mother’s Day has been observed in the U.S. on the last Sunday of September each year since World War I.
From March 20, 2003 through the end of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” last year, more than 4,500 American soldiers were killed. These aren’t just numbers: These are incalculable losses, and they continue in Afghanistan.
The law authorizes a special Gold Star Family license plate to be issued to parents, siblings, spouses, children, stepparents and adoptive parents of service members killed in the line of duty.
Gov. Chris Christie signed the measure into law at the New Jersey War Memorial in Trenton, joined by Gold Star families and veterans.
“My grandmother was a Gold Star mother,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “It’s honoring not only the parents, but it’s reminding us of how these people that go to war continue to keep us free and keep us safe.”
Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jack Conners noted that the plates’ design “will be done by the Gold Star Mothers organization. They will work and come up with a proper design for the plate. And also, they will decide who gets the license plate. This will not be something that the Motor Vehicle Commission does.”
What’s more, he said, the organization will select the recipients and the MVC won’t charge extra to those who get them.
He, Vainieri Huttle and Assemblyman Matthew W. Milam issued this multi-media release:
The legislation on the Senate side was sponsored by Sen. T. Kean.
“The gold star remains a powerful reminder that for every soldier that falls on a battlefield thousands of miles away, there is a family that suffers and feels that loss right here at home,” Kean said. “Many of those families want nothing more than for others to recognize that soldiers, including their loved ones, continue to make the ultimate sacrifice in service of our nation. The signing of this legislation will ensure that those sacrifices are recognized and honored.”
GOLD STAR : Refers to the gold star on service flags displayed in the windows of homes of families who have lost a child to war. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the military. Living servicemen are represented by a blue star. Gold Star Mothers are often socially active but are non-political. Membership is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in the service of our country.
Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor
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