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This evening at the White House, President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, along with Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster and retired General and current Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, hosted a reception to honor Gold Star families and those they have lost.

“Gold Star families have lost an immediate family member who was serving during wartime, and they are a unique and distinct category of individuals who should be cherished,” First Lady Melania Trump said.  “These families have endured the ultimate in pain and sacrifice on behalf of our country, and I am honored to have spent the evening with them. My husband and I commit to always pay tribute to our active service military, veterans, and the families who love them.”

Lieutenant General McMaster gave welcoming remarks before introducing the President and First Lady.  President Trump addressed the families, then turned the evening over to Secretary Kelly, whose son, a U.S. Marine officer, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.  Secretary Kelly made remarks before asking the families in attendance to stand as their service member was named.  Secretary and Mrs. Kelly then lit candles in remembrance of all who have fallen in service to the country.

The term “Gold Star family” traces its origin to World War I. During that conflict, Americans would fly a flag bearing a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces. The star would be changed to gold if the family lost a loved one in the War.

The evening also included musical performances by the United States Marine Band and vocal performances by a military soloist who sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “America the Beautiful.”