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Memorial Day by Sheilla Lampkin

May 26th, 2014 by

imageimageMemorial Day is next Monday, May 26, 2014, and I want to thank each of the veteran servicemen, past and present, for your service to our great nation.  I also want to remind you of a little remembered symbol from WWI and WWII that few today likely can recall.  Yet it was a very significant and unique memento from our country’s history.

The relic I am referring to is a service flag, also known as a service banner.  The service flag was an official banner that families could display in the window of their homes if they had a member serving in any branch of the armed forces of the United States during any war or period of hostilities where American soldiers were engaged.

The service flag had a white field inside a red border with a blue star for each family member serving in the military.  If a family member died during his/her service, whether in action or by unrelated causes, the blue star was covered with a gold star to signify the ultimate sacrifice.

These flags were first used during WWI after they were designed in 1917 by U. S. Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of the 5thOhio Infantry in honor of his two sons who were serving in the Army then.  The flagswere quickly adopted by the public andgovernment officials to recognize homes that had given up a member to fight for liberty and freedom.

Originally only blue and gold stars were used, but silver stars were later introduced to represent those discharged from service because they were wounded or injured in a war zone.

It was not unusual for a window to display more than one flag, or flags with more than one star, for each son/daughter in service.  The blue star flag became a symbol of love, hope, pride and great concern.  They symbolized pride in the commitment of America’s youth and a reminder of the gravity of the entire war effort.  It symbolized Americans supporting each other in those dire days.

The tragedy was the somber realizationthat each blue star had the potential to change its color too easily.  As the war continued, it was almost a daily event in some heavily populated areas to see a black car drive slowly down a street lined with Blue Star houses, pull to a curb and bring a mother the news she’d hoped to never hear.

Can you imagine the heartbreak in the home of Tom and Alleta Sullivan of Waterloo, Iowa, when all five Blue Stars in their home were replaced with Gold Starsfor their five sons lost at sea during WWII!  (“The Fighting Sullivans were immortalized in a 1944 war film.  If you’ve never seen it, please give it a viewing!  Be sure to have your tissues nearby though.)

Since WWII the Blue Star and Gold Star traditions have been mostly ignored.  Yet this legacy of the Blue Star flags was an impressive and wonderful American tradition that is certainly worthy of revival.  Let’s just pray there will be no need for another Gold Star flag.

Happy Memorial Day!!  If you can, attend a local Memorial Day service.  If not, just thank a veteran for their service and remember those who gave all.  If you read this, and have one of these Blue Star or Gold Star treasures stored away, I’d like to see it and be entrusted with it for the Drew County Museum.

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Newer article: Notice to Drew County Taxpayers

Older article: Have A Happy & Safe Memorial Day

2 Responses to “Memorial Day by Sheilla Lampkin”

  1. Diane cooper says:

    Thanks this helped me out a lot in 02 period class english

  2. Niyyah says:

    Wow. I never did know how much these symbols meant. Now I know a lot. Thanks Sheila lampkin for the information

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