The U.S. Department of Defense issues Gold Star Lapel Buttons to immediate family members of a fallen member of the military.
The pins, featuring a gold star on a purple circular background, are worn by spouses, parents, siblings and children of service members killed in action, or due to other circumstances while on active duty.
The Gold Star Lapel Button, also referred to as the Gold Star pin, is distributed to members of the immediate family of a fallen service member by the Department of Defense. The pin is distributed to family members according to strict Department of Defense guidelines for service members who have lost their lives in a conflict or in support of certain military operations. The Gold Star has also appeared on flags, as was popular during WWII, which families would hang in the window to indicate that a loved one had been killed in the war effort. Gold Star Families are individuals who have received the Gold Star Lapel Button from the Department of Defense for the sacrifice of their loved one.
Eligibility and Application Procedures for the Gold Star Lapel Button: http://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/forms/dd/dd0003.pdf