"The plate represents every fallen warrior from every conflict as far back as we can find family members for," said Mike Anderson.
The Anderson family worked for four years to raise $300,000 - enough money to cover the cost of the gold star licenses so there would be no financial impact on the state. In exchange, the state has waived some fees for those using the custom plates.
Through the organization CalVet, the Andersons worked with state lawmakers to get the plates approved and on Dec. 9, Mike Sr., his wife Angela and daughter Allie, received one of the first plates directly from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"I didn't fight. I didn't exchange a round with bad guys in country but I'm very proud of these guys," said Mike Anderson, Sr. "I wrap my arms around them and they do the same with us they're there for us and we're there for them."
“They're finally going to get some recognition after all these years,” Anderson said as he stood in front of 1st Marine Division Headquarters at Camp Pendleton, a place Marines simply call the White House.
The Anderson family is spending several days at Camp Pendleton for a reunion with members of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment’s Kilo Company who served with Cpl Anderson in Iraq. The group gets together every year. Anderson says it’s a meeting he wouldn’t miss for the world.
The Gold Star License Plates include, on the left side, a Gold Star on a blue field surrounded by a wreath of small white stars; along the bottom of the plate, the words “Gold Star Family” in gold on a blue field; on the right corner, an image of a small folded American Flag.
The gold star has long represented family members killed in combat. The symbol was used during World War II when families of those killed in action would place a gold star in their windows.