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The Gold Star Wives of America was formed before the end of World War II to provide support for the spouses and children of those who lost their lives while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. The first meeting was on April 5, 1945, when four young widows met in Marie Jordan's apartment on West 20th Street in New York City. One week later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died. Shortly thereafter, Eleanor Roosevelt, the widow of the Commander-in-Chief, joined the organization. Mrs. Roosevelt was most helpful in the early days of the organization. She attended meetings, wrote about the organization in her My Day column, entertained children of Gold Star Wives at a picnic at her home in Hyde Park, served on the first board of directors, and was one of the original 15 signers when the organization was chartered as a non-profit organization in the State of New York in December 1945. The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code under Public Law 96-497.

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From the outset, the organization sponsored a variety of activities for the children, and guided them as they formed their own auxiliary of the organization called the Gold Star Sons and Daughters.

Gold Star Wives groups were soon organized in other cities throughout the country, and were chartered as chapters of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. The Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq brought in new groups of widows (widowers). Added to the survivors of service personnel killed in action are thousands who die each year from service connected causes. Remarried widows are eligible for membership.

Currently there are members, and local chapters, in all parts of the United States. The country is divided into eight regions. Region conferences are held in the spring where recommendations originate for presentation to the national convention held each year, usually in July. In addition, an Appreciation Award Reception in held in Washington, D.C. in late May honoring those who have shown that they have gratefully remembered those who gave their lives in the service of our country, and their survivors.

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