Gold Star Mothers is a group of moms who’ve lost a son or daughter in the service of our country.
This group was named after the gold star that families hung in their window in honor of a deceased veteran from their family. And it was 10 Gold Star Mothers who first rallied their community of Prince George’s County, Maryland, to build the Bladensburg World War I Memorial and commemorate their fallen sons in World War I.
One of those Gold Star moms was Martha J. Redman, mother to William Redman, a U.S. Navy sailor.
Serving his country and defending freedom, William was one of the fallen heroes who paid the ultimate price during World War I. A native of Prince George’s County, MD, William gave his life while deployed in France in 1918. William was the first sailor from the county to lose his life overseas.
Following his death, William’s mother – Martha J. Redman – realized it would be nearly impossible for her to voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to visit her son’s grave. Thus, she dedicated herself to raising funds for a memorial that would pay homage to her son, as well as the 48 other men of Prince George’s County who sacrificed their lives during the Great War.
In 1919, Mrs. Redman joined a memorial committee that included nine other mothers of men who died in World War I formed with the purpose of building memorial that would commemorate the county’s fallen heroes.
Before the year ended, Mrs. Redman’s dream to erect the memorial started to become a reality. On Sunday, September 28, 1919, a site dedication ceremony was held, where Mrs. Redman turned the first shovel, breaking the ground on which the memorial would one day stand.
In 1920, Mrs. Redman addressed a letter to her U.S. Senator, John Walter Smith. She explained that she had worked so hard to raise funds for the memorial because “my son, William F. Redman, lost his life in France and because of that I feel that our memorial cross is, in a way, his grave stone.”
Mrs. Redman and the committee continued to give their utmost effort to see that the memorial would be built. But the initial momentum experienced some setback due to a lack of funds.
In 1922, the drive to construct the memorial was turned over to newly returned veterans of the American Legion, who agreed to take on the project as a way of honoring their fallen comrades. The American Legion then embarked on a four-year journey of intense fundraising to complete a monument to the county’s heroic dead who gave their utmost in the World War.
A few years later, in 1925, the Gold Star Mothers of the fallen heroes, with help from The American Legion, were able to inaugurate William’s “gravestone” at the terminus of the National Defense Highway in Bladensburg — a highway that was itself dedicated to the memory of those lost in WWI.
What these Gold Star Mothers started and our client, The American Legion completed, now falls to each of us to defend. We believe America should remember and honor her veterans. And through your support, First Liberty Institute will appeal the Bladensburg case to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep this memorial standing.