Oct. 30 (UPI) -- A permanent exhibit dedicated to Gold Star Families was unveiled at the Pentagon this week, honoring families who lost loved ones in military service.
Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley led the opening of the display, and cut a ceremonial ribbon on Thursday.
The Gold Star Memorial is the latest of several historical displays at the Pentagon, with this one originated by Jane Horton, whose husband, Spc. Christopher Horton of the Oklahoma National Guard, died in combat in 2011 in Afghanistan.
"Behind every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman willing to give their all, there are loved ones who support us in service and in sacrifice," Milley said in brief remarks.
"The gold star is a symbol of your loved one, a symbol of the one that you lost, and they were children, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters; and they were friends, and coaches, and mentors, and so much more," Milley said. "But most of all, they're American heroes."
The tradition of the Gold Star dates to World War I, with Americans placing a card depicting a blue star in a home window if a family member is in military service.
If the family member died in service, it was replaced with a gold star. Since then, a Gold Star lapel pin is awarded to immediate family members of U.S. soldiers who die in combat.
The Pentagon display will include, on a rotating basis, stories of service personnel and their Gold Star families.
It currently features the five Sullivan brothers, who died while aboard the USS Juneau when it was struck by torpedoes during World War II. When civilian tours of the Pentagon resume, the Gold Star Memorial will be an element in the visit, officials said.