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The Gold Stars comes from the idea of life after the military for the families of fallen soldiers. It is not so much on the idea of veterans, but the families of fallen soldiers. Military families have a tradition of hanging a flag in their window with stars honoring family members serving in war: blue stars for living soldiers and gold stars for those who have died. These portraits imply the sacrifices that the families of soldiers have made, and show how loved ones are coping through the myriad ways they have managed to hold onto the memory of their loss. Often, people assume family members are going to be depressed, and that others should feel pity for them, but that isn’t the case all the time. These families consist of ordinary people that aren’t depressed all the time and have the mindset to continue life. Gold Stars are a representation of a family that had a loved one that gave the ultimate sacrifice in a combat zone. 

"My son Randy growing up was blamed for a few things. One night a police officer showed up at my door and said that there has been a report that he's been shooting a BB gun at cars. I told him I sure wish he did, but he was killed in Vietnam." Janice Dahlke's son Randy was killed in action on 3 March 1969, 11 days before his birthday.

Liz and Glenn Kryst wasn't home when Marine's showed up at their door. Someone mentioned, maybe he's injured and that's why they're over to tell them that? They knew the reality that Marine's don't show up for injuries. Captain Kevin Kryst was killed in action on 18 Dec 2016. "When Kevin died his fiancé Sara was out scheduling a place to be married. She was engaged before to a friend that passed away and we always thought that god wasn't going to take two fiancés away from her." -Liz Kryst

Ron and Debbie Ross continue to remember memories of their son Justin after his death in 26 March 2011 with memories such as the motto with his brothers in arms, "Lead with the Stache."

It was around lunch time when Stephen and Kathryn Castner was approached by Army representatives at their front door in Cedarburg, WI, that their son Stephen was killed in action while deployed to Iraq back on 24 July 2006. "When we were approached about Stephen's death I couldn't believe it, I said that's impossible. Because I just talked to him not too long before that and he was still on his way to Iraq when we talked." -Kathryn

"My husband passed away a few years before Adam left for basic. I think it hurt a lot because Adam was so much like his father. When I was having a bad day Adam would just know and drive up from Fort Campbell just to cheer me up." Adam Novak was killed in action in Afghanistan on 27 Aug 2010.

Shannon and Brian Coleman dedicated a room in honor of their son Chad with his awards and belongings after he was Killed in Action in Afghanistan on 27 Aug 2010.

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