By:  Jack Swift

County Historian

“The government of the United States extends an invitation to Mrs. M. W. Dyson to make a pilgrimage to the cemetery in Europe where the remains of her son are now interred.”
So read, in part, a letter received by Mrs. Dyson in the mid 1930s. Her son Don S. Williams had been drafted into U. S. Military Service during World War I (also known as The Great War) and was killed in action in France on October 16, 1918 — less than a month before the official end of that global conflict.

The U. S. Congress had passed a law that enabled the mothers and widows of the deceased soldiers, sailors and marines of the American forces now interred in the cemeteries of Europe to make a pilgrimage to those cemeteries.

The information above sets the stage for a very interesting book written and compiled by Mrs. Janet Cress Payne. Over several years and a great deal of research Payne has brought about a compelling book that portrays a Gold Star Mother and her trip to France to visit the grave of her son who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Payne’s book records the diary kept by Sarah Dyson on her trip to her son’s grave at Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in France.

”When A Blue Star Turns To Gold” refers to the blue star mother designation given to mothers who have a son or daughter who is serving in the military and the gold star mother designates mothers whose son or daughter died in any U. S. military engagement since that time. A silver star refers to a soldier who is wounded in battle.
The book has a treasury of documents and letters concerning people mentioned in the book.  There are also many photos along with the diary kept by Sarah Dyson on her memorable trip. She left from Butler, Tennessee by train on July 7, 1930. She sailed to France on the SS President Harding and returned on the SS President Roosevelt.