The Service Flag, also known as the Blue Star Service Banner, was designed and patented by World War I Army Captain Robert L. Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry who had two sons serving on the front line. During World War I, the flag quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in service.
The Blue Star Service Banner is an official banner authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families who have members serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities the United States may be engaged in for the duration of such hostilities. It may also be displayed by an organization to honor the members of that organization serving in the Armed Forces during a period of war or hostilities.
The Department of Defense specifies that family members authorized to display the flag include the wife, husband, mother, father, stepfather, parent through adoption, foster parents who stand or stood in loco parentis, children, stepchildren, children through adoption, brothers, sisters, half brothers and half sisters of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States. The flag should be displayed in a window of the residence of person who are members of the immediate family.
During World War II, the Department of War issued specifications on manufacture of the flag, as well as guidelines indicating when the service flag could be flown and by whom. The Blue Star Service Banner is an 8.5-by-14-inch white field with one or more blue stars sewn onto a red banner. The size varies but should be in proportion to the U.S. flag.
Today, families display these banners when they have a loved one serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The blue star represents one family member serving, and a banner can have up to five stars. If the individual is killed or dies, a smaller golden star is placed over it. Gold stars are placed above the blue stars or to the top right of the flag, in the event a flag represents multiple service members.
While Blue Star Service Banners were widely used during both world wars, they were not embraced during the Korean or Vietnam wars with the same enthusiasm. The American Legion rekindled that spirit of pride in our military men and women following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by providing banners to military families across the nation.
American Legion Post 41 has provided Blue Star Service Banners to twenty-seven local families who have members serving on active military duty. Fortunately, we have not had to provide any banners with gold stars.