Women have been affiliated with the military throughout history. Women of the Word Wednesday is where we explore the impact of Christian women affiliated with the military. Today’s Woman of the Word is Grace Darling Seibold, who went from military child to American Gold Star Mother.
Grace Darling Seibold:
founder of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
by Morgan Farr
Grace Darling Seibold was born to General Edward Whitaker and Theodocia Whitaker in 1869. During the Civil War, General Whitaker served as the Chief of Staff to General George Custer. General Whitaker was not only present at the end of the Civil War, but he also kept the flag of truce used to end the war. When the war was over he cut the flag into two parts the larger of which went to General Custard’s widow, and the smaller portion he gave to Grace. As was common at the time, little is known about Grace’s life between birth and marriage.
Grace married George Seibold in 1893, and their first child, George, was born a year later. Long before being a Military Mother or a Gold Star Mother, Grace was an active member of the Christian Women’s Temperance Union, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Ladies Auxiliary of the International Typographical Union. Grace was also active in her local church, often serving on committees. It is no surprise that Grace’s son George volunteered for the Aviation Corp in July of 1917, after having completed Officer’s Training Camp. Once he “earned his wings,” George was assigned to the U.S. 148th Pursuit Squadron which was under British command.
American Gold Star Mother
In 1918, George died in battle in France. Since he was under British command, the specific details of how Grace learned of George’s death are unclear. The time and place where Grace was notified are not certain, but what we do know for sure is that the family was not notified for three to four months following his death.
During those months of uncertainty, Grace visited wounded veterans and volunteered in hospitals because she felt that her grief was lifted in caring for these wounded men. Once she learned of George’s death, Grace began reaching out to other women who lost sons to the Great War. Grace leaned heavily on her faith. She is quoted as having said that many of the men sent to the battlefields had been boys too young to even have a wife yet and she felt it was up to the mothers of the dead to honor their sons. Out of that pain and sacrifice, American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. was born.
We actually know very little about Grace’s life, aside from her church membership and the work she put into creating and maintaining a place for military mothers to mourn the loss of their children. Grace’s organization, American Gold Star Mothers Inc., still exists today, giving community to Gold Star Mothers. These incredible women support and encourage one another. They honor the fallen, volunteer, and continue to have a lasting impact on the military community. In the book, That Knock at the Door: the History of Gold Star Mothers in America, it is written that the gold star mothers know, “when there are blue star banners, many of those stars would sadly turn to gold.” These women do not hide from that reality. Instead, they continue to serve our nation, and honor the memory of the fallen, with every outstretched hand.
Thank you for Grace Seibold. Thank you for her desire to turn her grief into something that would help others. Help us to learn from Grace’s work how to be people who look to You for “good” grief. Amen.
Notes and Resources
If you would like to hear more about Grace Darling Seibold and the American Gold Star Mothers be sure to check out our podcast Deeply Rooted next week, where Gold Star Mother Patti Elliot will join Morgan Farr to discuss the impact of American Gold Star Mothers Inc.