Honoring American Gold Star Mothers this Memorial Day

George SieboldLieut. G. V. Seibold Killed in Action
Battling Aviator, Recently Cited for Bravery in France, is War Victim.

Lieut. George Vaughn Seibold, battling aviator, cited for bravery in action some time ago, lost his life in a fight in the air August 26, last. His father, George G. Seibold has been officially notified of his son’s death by the War Department.

Lieut. Seibold was a member of the 148th U. S. Aero Squadron. He was first reported missing in action, though a number of circumstances led to the fear that he had been killed. Hope was sustained until now, however, by the failure to receive definite word.

Sunday, December 15, 1918, obituary in the Washington Star newspaper

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It is one of the most respected organizations in the U.S., but membership is preceded by excruciating pain and emotional loss. Today, the nearly 1000 members of the American Gold Star Mothers are bonded together by the one thing each shares – a child who died on active duty in the U.S. Military. The organization was started by mothers more than 75 years ago prompted when Grace Darling Seibold’s beloved son was killed in WWI.  Lt. George Vaughn Seibold’s death was announced to his mother in deafening moments of  silence which began with an empty mailbox and was confirmed by a box sent to his wife on October 11, 1918 with the words “Effects of deceased Officer 1st Lt. George Vaughn Seibold” scrawled on it.

Seibold was just 24 and had been serving less than a year. His body was never returned to his family. Before his death was confirmed, His mother, Grace Darling Siebold would visit the hospitals in DC, comforting the wounded servicemen and hoping to find news of her son.

George’s body was never identified.

Gold Start Mothers was founded in 1928 and while the purpose is to support one another, they have a far greater purpose, “giving loving care to hospitalized veterans confined in government hospitals far from home.”

american gold star moms

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There is still so much to do. Barb Benard is the current President of the American Gold Star Moms. I’m reprinting excerpts from her acceptance speech below. Please consider making a donation to this very important group.

On behalf of Me and My 1000 Girlfriends, thank you American Gold Star Mothers for your dedication to all sons and daughters who serve.

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Excerpts from Acceptance Speech by Incoming AGSM President
Barbara Benard, June 2013.

Our time honored mission grew out of a simple desire to make sure our sons and daughters are never forgotten for the ultimate sacrifice they have made to protect our nation and to continue the task they started by championing our veterans. Our journey together has presented many opportunities to share with each other how we felt after experiencing that heart wrenching “Knock at the Door” and repeat the stories of our children’s lives. I was lost, dazed, and confused after the death of my son Brent, as many of you have experienced also. I knew I needed to find a new path to survive, a new way to carry on for Brent and his fellow Brothers in Arms. Someone sent me information about Gold Star Mothers, so I filled out the application and sent in my membership dues. Not long after I received a welcome letter from Ruth Stonesifer, which by the way, I still have.

Now, more than ever, every branch of the service needs us to champion their cause. The numbers of our returning veterans after over 10 years of warfare with visible and invisible wounds due to multiple deployments is staggering. Years ago many of these men and women would not have survived their injuries, but due to life saving medical treatments on and off the battlefield they endure. They and their families are affected by the long wait for diagnosis and treatment and by the life altering changes their injuries have made. Too many of the returning veterans are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury, which leads to joblessness, homelessness, a high rate of suicide, and even imprisonment.

My son, Brent, was in the Army National Guard for almost 18 years. About half of our Armed Forces today are National Guard members. The citizen soldier has unique challenges. No sooner do they return from service, they must report to their civilian jobs and in some cases, not even the same position they held before their deployment. The government depends on our Guard and Reserves to fulfill the duties of today’s all volunteer military. Some say they are our unsung heroes.

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with 17 homeless veterans at Veterans Victory House in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Originally, our chapter wanted to take them out to dinner, but when they saw the price of the meals from local restaurants they told their case worker they didn’t want us to spend our money feeding them at those prices, it was a waste of money. Instead, they wanted pizza and wings in their lounge area and to spend time with us. They even decorated a piano military style and added the names of our sons. This event was to pay homage to them for their service but instead they chose to honor us. This is the mind set of these proud men. One of the men was a former Navy Seal and now is without a home or employment. The youngest veteran is a young man 21 years old and his name is Frank. Frank is a former sniper with shrapnel embedded in his skull, some inoperable. Standing at parade rest he is constantly surveying his surroundings looking for any unforeseen danger. It is our mission to venture into our communities and spread the word on the life changing medical difficulties facing our military men and women and their families.

The time is now to make sure we double our efforts to champion our veterans and their causes.

Together we serve to champion our veterans.

Barbara Benard

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