May 13th is Children of Fallen Patriots Day. In the past 25 years, more than 15,000 children have lost parents in military conflict. Children of Fallen Patriots Day was created in order to both honor these children and raise awareness of the sacrifices and struggles they must endure in the wake of their parents death. May 13 was selected as the date of observance due to being the day Arlington National Cemetery was established in 1864.
Children of Fallen Patriots Day will next be observed on Thursday, May 13th, 2021.
Although Children of Fallen Patriots Day is not a nationally recognized day of remembrance, since 2014, governors from across the nation have issued proclamations to officially designate May 13th as a day to honor these children.
From Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s directive that all citizens should “recognize and celebrate” children whose parents died in combat, to Governor David Ige’s acknowledgement of Hawaii’s commitment to provide “long-standing support for the children of our fallen patriots,” 27 states and the District of Columbia now recognize and observe Children of Fallen Patriots Day in some form.
The Creation of the Children Of Fallen Patriots Foundation
David Kim, founder and CEO of Fallen Patriots, created the foundation in order to honor the memory of Sergeant William Delaney Gibbs. Kim served with Sergeant Gibbs in the 7th Infantry Division during Operation Just Cause in Panama.
On December 20, 1989, Sergeant Gibbs was killed in action, widowing his young wife who was pregnant with their daughter at the time. Inspired both by Sergeant Gibb’s sacrifice and the plight of the family he left behind, Kim and his wife, Cynthia, created the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation in 2002.
The Mission of the Children of Fallen Patriots
Kim once described the mission of the foundation in the following way: “We believe that one of the best ways we can honor our fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country is to invest in the future of those they loved most in the world – their children. A college education is the key to a bright future for any child.”
For more than 25 years, the foundation has provided college scholarships and educational counseling to children who have lost parents in military conflict, called Gold Star scholars. Scholarships are awarded to Gold Star scholars in all 50 states and in all branches of the military.
The foundation also provides educational counseling to recipients. According to Kim, the organization centers around “a tremendous sense of responsibility to those who gave their all. We want to give back to their families and ease the burden of wondering how they will pay for a college education.”
Expanding Support for the Mission
In 2014, in an effort to raise national awareness about children whose parents died in combat, the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation began to reach out to cities across the country. This initial outreach resulted in partnerships between the foundation and several city governments nationwide. In turn, the mayors of the following cities issued official proclamations to recognize Children of Fallen Patriots Day as a day of remembrance:
- Austin, Texas
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Columbus, Ohio
- Dallas, Texas
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Washington D.C.
Since then, the mission has grown to national prominence, and governors of 27 states have joined the effort to declare Children of Fallen Patriots Day an official day of remembrance. These states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
The foundation has also partnered with numerous sponsors in order to provide educational benefits, internship opportunities, and job placements for scholarship recipients. These partnerships include corporations, foundations and individuals, such as:
- James and Alice B. Clark Foundation
- Kelly Clarkson
- Credit Suisse
- Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund
- Vineyard Vines
Children of Fallen Patriots Day is also listed in Chase’s 2019 Calendar of Events. This publication is considered “the most comprehensive and authoritative reference available on special events, worldwide holidays and festivals, civic observances and historic anniversaries.”
May 13th is not National Children of Fallen Patriots Day…Yet
Today, the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation continues its mission to raise awareness of children who have lost parents during military conflict and sees the nationwide implementation of Children of Fallen Patriots Day as a key part of this mission. However, if residents in the states that have not yet joined request official proclamations from their governors, it may not be long before Children of Fallen Patriots Day becomes a nationally recognized day of remembrance.
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