Although they have not been used a lot since World War II, the United States Service Flag is beginning to find favor once again with family members who have relatives serving in the United States Armed Forces. The purpose of the flag is to honor those family members on active duty in times of war or hostilities.
The official banner is authorized by the Department of Defense. The military star flag is also known by other names, including blue star banner or a son-in-service flag.
Origin of the United States Service Flag
The flag was designed by Robert L Queisser, a captain in the United States Army. He made the flag to honor his two sons who served in World War I. Members of the public and government officials quickly adopted the use of the flag as a symbol of having a child in the service.
In 1918, President Wilson approved a suggestion made by the Women’s Defense Committee that any mother who lost a son in active duty could wear a gold gilt star on a black armband. It then became a tradition to change the blue star with a gold one to show that you had a family member who died while engaged in hostility or war during Armed Forces service.
World War II
It was during World War II that the use of the flag became much more widespread. The Blue Star Mothers of America was founded in 1942. The organization was set up as part of a campaign to aid those serving overseas and their families, who faced difficulties while a family member that was serving on active duty. Almost every single home or organization either displayed the Blue Star Flag or the gold alternative.
Military Star Flag Specifications
In 1966, the Department of Defense laid out a number of specifications, including who is authorized to display and manufacture the flag.
The DOD states that only immediate family members are authorized to display the flag. The design of the flag is specified to be a white rectangular field with a blue star or gold star inside a red border. No other advertisement should be used along with the flag.
The Department of the Army will grant licenses to approved manufacturers only within the United States to produce the flag or the lapel button.
If a manufacturer wants to be granted a license, they must make a personal application to the director of the Army. Once the application is granted, a certificate of authority will be issued. They will also be provided the approved specifications for manufacture, from which they cannot deviate.
Modern Day Significance
The colors of the stars on the flags carry an important symbolic meaning. Blue means hope and pride, while gold means a sacrifice for liberty and freedom. Due to the symbolic meanings of the flag, the term “Blue Star” has come into popular use in the United States, like a Gold Star Mother or a Blue Star Wife.
There have also been several charity organizations set to support Blue Star Wives, Blue Star Mothers and Gold Star Mothers, with the last Sunday of September recognized as Gold Star Mother’s Day.
Gold Star family members can wear a lapel button, and all states in the Union provide a special license plate for Gold Star family members. The lapel button is issued free of charge to all immediate family members.
Silver stars are now becoming commonplace to represent those that have been discharged due to injury. Although not official, there is a movement by the Silver Star Families of America to get Congress to make them officially part of the banner in support of those injured or wounded in battle.
How the Flag Should Be Displayed
The blue star flag is an indoor flag — not an outdoor one — and should be treated with dignity and respect. If it is to be displayed alongside the flag of the United States, it can be of equal size but never larger. The flag should be facing out of a window of the immediate family member or organization. If you see a Blue Star Flag in your neighborhood, you’ll know that a patriot and their loving family are eagerly awaiting their triumphant return.