American Gold Star Mothers Reject Mother of Slain Soldier
Non-Citizen Refused Membership
WHITE PLAINS, New York – Everyone agrees that Ligaya Lagman is a Gold Star mother, part of the long line of mournful women whose sons or daughters gave their lives for their country.
Her 27-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman, was killed last year in Afghanistan when his unit came under fire during a mission to drive out remnants of Taliban and al-Qaida forces.
But the largest organization of these women, the American Gold Star Mothers Inc., has rejected Lagman, a Filipino, for membership because — though a permanent resident and a taxpayer — she is not a U.S. citizen.
“There’s nothing we can do because that’s what our organization says: You have to be an American citizen,” national President Ann Herd said Thursday. “We can’t go changing the rules every time the wind blows.”
That explanation isn’t satisfying the war veterans who sponsored Lagman’s application, some other members of the mothers’ group or several members of Congress.
“It is disheartening that any mother of a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who has died in the line of duty would be denied membership in an organization that honors the memory of fallen service men and women,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, whose district includes Lagman’s home in Yonkers.
Rep. Eliot Engel, who represents an adjoining district, said the group should change its rules immediately.
“Whatever the excuse, American Gold Star Mothers’ decision smacks of xenophobia and is in stark contrast to what Mrs. Lagman’s son fought and died for,” Engel said.