Why I Founded Stars for Cars at Age 8 and Two Ways to Support Military Families

Stars for Cars was founded in January of 2011 after I heard First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden on a television show say we need to recognize the “Blue Star” and “Gold Star” Military Families in our communities.  At age 8, I learned that a “Blue Star” signifies that there is a family member who is Serving in the Armed Forces and that a “Gold Star” signifies that a loved one has died while Serving Our Nation.  Mrs. Obama reminded the audience that 1% of our country is protecting the other 99% of our country.  Also on the show was a Gold Star Mother who bravely told of losing her son while in Service to Our Nation.  Her son died at age 20 while fighting in Iraq for our freedom.  Hearing both the “1%” statistic and the Gold Star Mother’s story, I decided to design a star shaped magnetic car decal in hopes of raising awareness of the “Blue Star” and “Gold Star” Military Families in my community of New Rochelle, New York.  I thought that wherever the decals traveled to, some passerby in the next town or city might ask about their meaning and want to learn more about what they can do to acknowledge the sacrifices made by the people I call, “Our Nation’s One Percenters.” We order the star decals locally and they can be mailed nationally and internationally.  100% of all proceeds from the sale of the decals go to support Military Families through the vital programs of the United Service Organization (USO). We also work with other organizations who promote and support Military Families, volunteerism, and youth engagement.

A second way to show your support for our “1%ers” is through the cost-free “3 Holidays Announcement” program.  I would like to have the following announcement read during the school day on three patriotic holidays and they are Patriot Day (9/11), Veterans Day, and Memorial Day: “We take this time to remember our “Blue Star” and “Gold Star” Military Families and thank them for their sacrifice and generosity.  We want them to know that they are a part of our community”.  Having students across this great nation of splendor, opportunity, and justice recognize these families, who are really our neighbors, during the school day is something I feel passionate about.  Recognizing those who are currently protecting us or who have died while doing so by taking a moment to acknowledge them at least three times a year during the school day means that they will never be forgotten.  The announcement also serves as a conversation starter.  Many children are unfamiliar with the terms, “Blue Star” and “Gold Star.”  Conversely, those who come to school carrying the burden of having lost a loved one or live with the fear that they might lose a loved one while in Service to Our Nation, know all too well what these terms mean.  School is a place where we are educated, not only about core academics, but also about who is a part of and what takes place in our community.  My family has taught me that our community is an extension of our family.  I do not want to leave anyone out of our family, in particular, those who protect and defend our freedoms.  I also want families who have lost someone they have loved and who sacrificed for all of us to never feel disconnected from their community.  Those who Serve Our Nation are willing to give a sacrifice that is permanent.  And, that is exactly what the legacy of Our Nation is.  Our legacy is that of sacrifice, permanence, and honor.  Since its inception in 2014, I have watched this announcement grow from having it said in one elementary school, then city-wide, to state-wide, to nationally.  Please let us know if your school will join us in this endeavor so that we can add you to our growing list.

It is also important to remember “Blue Star” and “Gold Star” Military Families while enjoying fun sporting events.  Since seeing the “3 Holidays Announcement” up on the jumbotron at Yankee Stadium in 2016, I began to reach out to the leadership of many sports teams and leagues to ask if they would say this announcement.  Because some sporting events take place outside of the three patriotic holidays, the announcement can also be said on an alternate day such as Armed Forces Day or a day that has meaning for the team.  Please let us know if your team will either say or display this announcement during a game.  It can be said at a large professional stadium, an NCAA college or university, or at your local Little League game.  We will add you to our list and I am happy to acknowledge you in a blog and on all social media platforms.

Last, I am grateful to all who have purchased a star or will in the future or who have participated in the “3 Holidays Announcement” program or who will in the future.  Thank you for taking the time to learn about Military Families and the two simple ways of acknowledging them.  Our “Blue Star” and “Gold Star” Military Families deserve our recognition and respect.  They sacrifice.  They protect.  They belong.

Your Neighbor,

Jake Gallin

Founder of Stars for Cars