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Bittersweet moment today for Gold Star parents
Angela and Mike Anderson (he is the fleet manager at Manteca Auto Plaza) received a commemorative copy of the Gold Star Family License Plate Bill from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008. - photo by Photo Contributed
Mike Anderson, fleet manager of Manteca Auto Plaza, will have one more bittersweet moment today in Sacramento.

He and his wife, Angela, will receive one of the first-ever Gold Star License Plates today at the All Veteran Memorial at Capitol Park. They lost their son, Marine Michael Jr. in the battle of Fallujah on Dec. 14, 2004.

In memory of his son, Mike Anderson fought long and hard to bring the Gold Star plate program to California, working alongside Rep. Jeff Denham and former state Sen. Dave Coghill (R-Modesto). They also had to raise $300,000 via private donations to pay for the creation of the new license plate program.

“Forty-five states already had the (Gold Star plate) program before us,” he recalled on Wednesday.

Scheduled to be on hand at the 3 p.m. event honoring the three families who suffered casualties of war are California Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Roger Brautigan and California Department of Motor Vehicles Director George Valverde.

“After four years, it will be gratifying to finally have the plates in hand,” Anderson said. “But at the same time it will be bittersweet.”

 The Gold Star License Plate Program was created in 2008 by legislation and signed into bill by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s described as a specialized plate with a distinct Gold Star emblazoned on the left side.

The bill will now allow families with a member of the U.S. Armed Forces killed on active duty to apply for the plate containing a gold star and the words “Gold Star Family.”