This Week In Quartermaster History
March 1929, eleven years after World War I, the U.S. Congress passed a law authorizing the
use of government funds to pay for mothers and widows of fallen veterans to visit their
loved ones buried on the battlefields of Europe. This unprecedented program honoring the
"Gold Star" mothers and widows was entrusted to the Quartermaster Corps for
proper and faithful execution.
At 11:30 a.m. on Friday,7 February 1930, in the Red Room of the White House, Mrs. Lou Henry Hoover, the Presidents wife, reached into a large silver bowl and pulled out the first of 54 unsealed envelopes. Each had in it a card bearing the name of a state or overseas territory. The first state picked was Nebraska -- and the card was instantly handed over to The Quartermaster General.
Two hundred and thirty-one women boarded the Quartermaster steamer S.S. America on 7 May 1930 and left New York harbor for Europe. Over the next three years, ending with the return of the S.S. Washington in August 1933, some 6,693 Gold Star mothers and war widows had made the pilgrimage abroad. No nation before or since has ever so honored the women whose sons and husbands gave their lives in the service of their country.
Compiled by the
U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps Historian
Fort Lee, Virginia