Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Daniel Benson, Paul Moriarty and Joe Danielsen to honor the parents and guardians of fallen members of the armed forces passed a key Assembly panel on Monday and is now one step closer to becoming law.
The bill (A-458), to be known as the “County Identification Cards for Gold Star Parents Act,” would permit county clerks or registers of deeds and mortgages to create a Gold Star Parent identification card. The card would serve to identify the holder as the parent or guardian of a member of the armed forces who died while on active duty and prove eligibility to receive any applicable discounts or other courtesies extended to military families.
“For those mothers and fathers who had to bury a child who volunteered to serve America out of love of country, having a tangible recognition of that sacrifice is invaluable,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “While the associated discounts and privileges will benefit families financially, this legislation, more importantly, is a way to acknowledge just how much the parents of members of our military also give to our country.”
Every application for a Gold Star Parent identification card would be signed and certified by the applicant and would be supported by such documentary evidence as the county clerk or register of deeds and mortgages, as appropriate, may require.
“It’s only right that we honor not only our fallen service members, but also the men and women who raised them to have such a great sense of dedication to the United States of America,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation will provide the state’s 21 counties with a means of recognizing parents whose sons and daughters made the ultimate sacrifice.”
“Every parent’s greatest fear is seeing his or her child in harm’s way. For those whose children serve in the armed forces, this is routine,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Enabling parents of fallen patriots to receive a designation that distinguishes them and serves as a tribute to their children’s service is a small token of gratitude for a debt that can never be repaid.”
“The title of ‘gold star’ is a badge no parent ever wants,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset), a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves. “But, in conferring this designation we hope to convey our respect and gratitude for the unthinkable sacrifice they’ve been forced to endure while paying tribute to the heroics their child displayed in defense of our nation.”
Under the bill, proof of status may include any or all of the following:
- a certification from an organization formed for the support of parents of members of the armed forces who lost their lives while on active duty for the United States, that the applicant is the parent, legal guardian or other legal custodian, whether of the whole or half blood or by adoption, of a member of the armed forces who died while on active duty for the United States;
- the service member’s federal DD Form 1300, Report of Casualty, which identifies the member of the armed forces who died while on active duty for the United States; and
- documentation indicating the applicant’s relationship to the service member.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. It was unanimously approved by the Senate in June and now awaits final legislative approval from the full Assembly before heading to the governor’s desk.