Beginning June 30, the Navy began designating parking spaces for them. In Kitsap, they’ve been set aside at the Bangor Fleet Family Service Center, Bremerton exchange, Bremerton commissary and Naval Hospital Bremerton. They have signs that read, “Reserved for surviving family members. Please respect their spot and their sacrifice.”
Capt. Pete Dawson, Naval Base Kitsap commander, said the base’s mission is to support not only the fleet and fighter but the family. “Providing designated parking, and thus easier access to base facilities for the Gold Star families, is a gesture of respect from everyone on the base toward families who have lost a service member in combat,” he said.
Designated parking spots will be available at Fleet Family Service Centers, commissaries and exchanges. The base commanding officer can add them at other sites. “We are indebted to the Gold Star families for the ultimate sacrifice made by their family member to protect our freedoms,” said Capt. Scott Hogan, Navy Region Northwest chief of staff. “We will continue to care and support the families of our fallen military members.”
The Navy wasn’t able to say Monday whether anybody has registered. The deceased veteran can be from as far back as World War I, though there probably are not many of their immediate survivors still around. Even children of World War II vets, including 226 from Kitsap County who were killed, are getting up there. The county lost 15 to the Korean War, 39 to Vietnam, four to the Gulf War and 12 in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mothers of fallen service members began calling themselves “Gold Star Mothers” during World War I. Since 1936, the United States has observed Gold Star Mother’s Day on the last Sunday of September.
In 1967, Congress established Gold Star lapel pins to issue to immediate family members of service members killed in combat, including those who committed suicide in theater. In 2010, Congress designated Dec. 18 as Gold Star Wive’s Day.