More Federal Holidays? Gold Star Families Day Act is Latest Proposal

The Gold Star Families Day Act is the latest bill proposing more federal holidays.

The Gold Star Families Day Act (S. 3734) is a bill in Congress proposing to create a new federal holiday.

With the passage of legislation creating the new Juneteenth holiday back in 2021, there have been a number of new holidays proposed in Congress.

Politics and politicians often lead to seeking publicity, particularly if there is a cause that is not controversial. Proposing new federal holidays has become a new way to create publicity, provide recognition to events or individuals that are worthwhile, and put a Congressman’s name on favorable legislation.

That is understandable; being in Congress is often a lifetime job filled with many benefits. Being a Member of Congress is also frequently a key to becoming wealthy—a majority of those in Congress are millionaires— and the position allows one to wallow in flattery, publicity, and perks from those seeking favors from our federal government.

Some in Congress are also people who genuinely want to contribute to creating and sustaining a government that enables us to enjoy personal freedom.

As noted in

Much of the wealth in Congress is concentrated at the top. The top 10 percent of wealthiest lawmakers have three times more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. While some lawmakers are still paying off student loans, others are paying off their third or fourth mortgage. The group of wealthiest members includes career politicians who boosted their portfolios over decades in Congress and recently elected lawmakers. 

Proposed Federal Holidays

Juneteenth is now recognized as a federal holiday on June 19th each year, unless that date falls on a weekend and Americans would not get to take a day off of work to observe the holiday.

June 19, 2021, was the 156th anniversary of the last African American slaves being freed in Texas. It was the first federal holiday approved since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. The bill was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate and passed with a vote of 415-14 in the House.

Here are other holidays that have now been proposed in Congress:

What Does the Gold Star Families Day Act Commemorate?

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced the Gold Star Families Day Act. This bill proposed to create an annual federal holiday on the last Monday in September to honor the families of those who lost their lives in the Armed Forces.

She wrote in a press release:

Gold Star Families make incredible sacrifices for our country, and that’s why I’m introducing [the legislation] to honor and respect the painful sacrifice that continually lives with the families of our fallen heroes.

The legislation is related to the Gold Star Mother’s Day.

American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. started as a nonprofit organization of American mothers who lost sons or daughters in the American military.

The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a service flag in their homes. The service flag had a star for each family member in the Armed Forces. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives in combat were represented by a gold star.

The day is for honoring families of those who have received The Gold Star – a military award no family wants to receive. 

The award commemorates the death of a military member who died in the line of duty and hopes to provide a level of comfort to the parents and families that are left behind.

Since World War 1, a “Gold Star Family” refers to a family that has lost one of its members in combat. The family can display a Gold Star Service Flag for any military family members who have died from any honorable cause – each gold star on the flag signifies a death.

The American Gold Star Mothers started in 1917 largely due to the efforts of Grace Siebold. Her son, George, was a pilot killed during World War 1.

George joined the 148th Aero Squadron in 1918. This was an American unit under British Royal Air Force command. It was a fighter squadron tasked with shooting down enemy aircraft, escorting air squadrons, and providing close air support of ground operations. 

In September 1918, his letters home stopped. Grace Seibold contacted the War Department. She was told the agency did not “keep tabs” on those under British command. 

A family story relates that on Christmas Eve, 1918, a package appeared at her house. The label on the package read: “Effects of deceased officer 1st Lieutenant George Vaughn Seibold, attached to the 148th Aero Squadron, British Royal Flying Corps.

The package was actually delivered in October. A week before the Armistice of November 11, the Seibold family learned the War Department had declared George dead in the Pas-de-Calais, France on August 26, 1918. His remains had not been identified, but he was presumed buried in a French cemetery. 

Grace gathered what would become the American Gold Star Mothers to grieve together and tend to hospitalized veterans in local hospitals. The organization was formalized as a non-profit in 1928.

Gold Star Families Day Holiday

The new holiday would fall between Labor Day and Columbus Day.

Since 2011, the president has annually declared a day as Gold Star Families Day. Creating a new federal holiday would provide great publicity for the event even though it was created after World War I.

Congress will have to decide which days are sufficiently important to create another federal holiday. No doubt, with all of the latest proposals, the designation may seem less significant than it once did. On the other hand, many voters like having a day off of work without a loss of pay.

Federal Holidays in 2022

Here is a listing of federal holidays in 2022.

Friday, December 31, 2021*New Year’s Day
Monday, January 17Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 21**Washington’s Birthday
Monday, May 30Memorial Day
Monday, June 20*Juneteenth National Independence Day
Monday, July 4Independence Day
Monday, September 5Labor Day
Monday, October 10Columbus Day
Friday, November 11Veterans Day
Thursday, November 24Thanksgiving Day
Monday, December 26Christmas Day

*If a holiday falls on a Saturday, for most Federal employees, the preceding Friday will be treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes. (See 5 U.S.C. 6103(b).) If a holiday falls on a Sunday, for most Federal employees, the following Monday will be treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes. (See Section 3(a) of Executive Order 11582, February 11, 1971.) See also our Federal Holidays – “In Lieu Of” Determination Fact Sheet.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47