A tradition that was extremely popular during World War I and World War II but seemed to have waned during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
How Did it Start?
It seems that in 1917, an Army Captain by the name of Robert L. Queissner had two sons serving in the infantry. He designed and patented the banner. It was later unofficially recognized by people as serving note that whomever flew a Blue Star Banner, had children in the Armed forces.
To quote an excerpt of the Congressional Record of September 24, 1917.
”The mayor of Cleveland, the Chamber of Commerce and the governor of Ohio have adopted this service flag. The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother - their children."
During World War II, the Department of War actually issued specifications about how the banner was to be manufactured and displayed. It also offered up some guidelines about just who should display the Blue Star Banner. Today, they are displayed by anyone who has a loved one in the Armed Forces. This also includes activated members of the National Guard and the Reserves. It doesn’t matter if your loved one is a son, daughter, sister, brother, wife, husband, cousin, grandchild, etc, you can let folks know that you have a family member in the service.
So what does it look like?
According to specifications, the Blue Star Banner is an 8 by 16 inch white field with a blue star sewn on a red banner. The Blue Star represents your loved one(s). There can be up to five blue stars on a banner, each one representing a loved one. Should one of your loved ones be killed or die while in the service, the blue star is replaced by a gold one and placed in the center of the banner.
So what about today?
As the likelihood of war with Iraq increases, the American Legion, is trying to resurrect the tradition of the Blue Star Banner. You can contact them at www.legion.org if you have any questions or would like to obtain a Blue Star Banner.
For those of you who have seen the movie “Saving Private Ryan”, the Blue Star Banner is hanging in the front window of Mrs. Ryan’s home.
Some Personal Thoughts
Even though I see everything wrong with war, I can see nothing wrong with this tradition. It (the tradition) doesn’t hurt anybody and even though I was in the service, I can’t begin to imagine the anxiety that a parent must feel about the prospect of any of his or her loved ones fighting and dying in a foreign country. A little respect is due those families and individuals for making such a sacrifice and if flying a flag that denotes or commemorates that sacrifice, or serves to make their families at home feel any better, all the more power to them.