Pfc Shane M. Reifert

Pfc Shane M. Reifert
Shane during a sweep of the Shuryak Valley, approximately 3 weeks before he was killed. Photo Credit: PFC Sean Stromback

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gold Star Family License Plate, Part I

After Shane's death, my family and I immediately began hearing about how we were now a "Gold Star Family." My dad is a Gold Star Dad. My mom is a Gold Star Mom. And I am a Gold Star Sibling/Sister. At first, I had no idea what this meant and did not really care. But now, being in a Gold Star Family is something very close to my heart.

A member of a Gold Star Family is any member of the immediate family of a person who died in a combat zone while a member of any branch of the armed services. It is the reason why, for those who know me, I wear my Gold Star lapel pin.

It is also why my family has a Gold Star Service Flag hanging in the window of our home.

I recently learned about Gold Star License Plates. These plates remind the general public of the great sacrifice that men and women have made for our country in a very open and public way. According to American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., all but four states have Gold Star Family License Plates, and Michigan happens to be one of the four that does not. I was deeply saddened to learn this. Especially because
  • 1,456 Michigan citizens were casualties of the Korean War
  • 2,652 Michigan citizens were casualties of the Viet Nam War
  • 13 Michigan citizens were casualties of Operation Desert Storm
  • 158 Michigan citizens were casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • 40 Michigan citizens, including my brother, were casualties of Operation Enduring Freedom
That means, in the state of Michigan alone, 4,319 families have been affected by the casualties of war.

Last term, bills creating a Gold Star License Plate were introduced in the Michigan House and Senate, but failed.

This year, the identical Senate Bill 0102 (SB0102) and House Bill 4088 (HB4088) have been introduced to again attempt to amend Michigan Compiled Law 257.803e to authorize 

"The spouse, parent, sibling, or child of a member of the Armed Services who died during combat may make application to the Secretary of State for a special registration plate that shall be inscribed with special identification numbers preceded by a gold star and shall have the words "Gold Star Family" inscribed beneath the registration number." 

I do not plan on doing nothing and will do my part to make sure that these bills do not fail again. They have both been referred to the Committee on Transportation, but citizens of Michigan need to persuade their Senators and Representatives to vote in favor of the bills. If you are interested in telling your elected officials that the passing of SB0102 and HB4088 is important to you, please contact them, as I plan on doing. Click the links below to find which district you live in and the street and email addresses of all 110 Michigan Representatives and all 38 Michigan Senators. 

District Map 
Michigan State Representatives
Michigan State Senators

If you would like to send a letter, CLICK HERE for sample letters to send to a state senator or representative.