The 75th anniversary of the end of World War II is also the 75th anniversary of Gold Star Wives of America Inc.  Our organization, chartered by Congress, was originally called WWII Widows, and Eleanor Roosevelt was one of our charter members.

At that time our organization was formed to help widows of World War II to find jobs, get education and training for jobs, find day care and to ask the federal government for benefits for the surviving families. People don’t always remember that when the soldiers came home, the women were released from many jobs. Many of these women were war widows trying to put food on the table. And benefits were not what they are today.

One of our first successes was getting a raise in the stipend for children. The first child of an active duty solider was $30 a month. If that soldier was killed, the stipend dropped to $15 a month — as though the child would now need less food. Our group was able to get legislation passed to get this raised to a whopping $18 a month. This equated to an additional pint of milk a day for that child. In our original newsletter, it states that maybe next time, Congress can give enough to get the child some orange juice!

The story of the Gold Star Wives is an integral part of the WWII story.

Nancy Menagh, Lake Oswego

Menagh is the national president of Gold Star Wives of America

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