Turns out, however, that there was much, much more to that story than was reported by the press. Why does that not surprise me -- it's CBS and the New York Times all over again.
Statement Regarding National Media Attention Concerning Ligaya Lagman And "The Denial Of A Gold Star."
The term "gold star" is a term used to recognize the family member of a serviceman or servicewoman who has died in the line of service to their country. As protocol states, the Department of Defense presents to the family, a gold star lapel button, in accordance with each branch of the military's protocol. The gold star lapel button is not issued by the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
As to the accusation that Mrs. Lagman's application was denied does not tell the complete story. The application for membership with American Gold Star Mothers was received by the Department of New York. It was not completed or signed by the applicant, nor did it have the required copy of the death certificate and the payment of the first years dues. There were several inaccuracies on the application as to the dates required. A certified letter was mailed to Mrs. Lagman requesting the application be completed in full and returned for approval. To date, we have not heard from Mrs. Lagman, nor have we received any form of communication to the status of her membership application.
To say that the application has been denied is not an accurate statement.
It is also true that the constitution and bylaws of the organization’s founder, Mrs. Grace Darling Seibold, established in 1928, along with fellow charter members, named the organization 'American Gold Star Mothers.'
In Article IV, Section 1 under Eligiblity and Membership states:
"Natural Mothers, or citizens of the United States or the Territorial and Insular Possessions of the United States, (italics mine) at the time of their sons or daughters induction into the United States Armed Forces and died as a casualty, killed, captured, missing in action, or as a result of illness or injury received through engagement in the Armed Forces in WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, Afganistan, and other Strategic Areas.
On June 12, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed and approved a charter for the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. granted by the 98th Congress of the United States of America, which states under Powers, Section 2:
"American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. shall have only those powers granted to it though it’s bylaws and articles of incorporation filed in the state or states which is incorporated and subject to the laws of such state or states."
As Congress has dictated above, by it's issuance of the federal charter, by virtue of its name, shall be recognized as "American Gold Star Mothers, Inc."
In the article there is mention to the fact that the membership board voted and discriminated against Mrs. Lagman. It was not a vote taken for membership, nor a change in the constitution. It was only from an outside source that the discussion took place regarding an upcoming applicant situation, and at that time, the board decided not to make an exception to the rule without proper investigation.
American Gold Star Mothers is an all-volunteer 501.c.3 organization with no federal funding or benefits from any government agency. Its only means of income is from membership dues and donations. They are grateful for the outpouring of support from other Veterans Service Organizations over the years who have worked closely with the Mothers, and knows their only honorable intentions comes from the heart.
The Executive Board would like to take this opportunity to apologize for anything taken out of its context in the dissemination of information while being investigated by the media and improperly reported. They would also appreciate the time to seek a remedy to this situation and handle it internally so that the best interests of all, and to future Mothers, can be addressed.
American Gold Star Mothers have received threats, malicious accusations, and disturbing e-mails, phone calls, and faxes. This organization of moms joined to support each other and also to support the veterans who are fortunate to come home. They have spent the last 77 years devoting their time and energy in service to the Veterans Administration, volunteering in VA Hospitals and nursing homes, accruing millions of hours helping those who honorably served their country.
That's really lovely, people. I'm not so proud to be an American when my countrymen do things like that. For Shame...all of you who would turn on that group, whether you think they are wrong or not. There's no excuse for that kind of behavior.