United States Army Captain Robert L. Queissner of the Fifth Ohio Infantry was proud of his two sons. They, like him, were serving in the military during World War I, most likely overseas. To honor their commitment in service, he designed a simple small banner in 1917 that showed two blue stars on a white background and displayed it at home.
Others in Ohio quietly noticed the banner and adopted a form of it as well to honor their family members serving in World War I. A member of Congress from Ohio, the story goes without identifying the Member, mentioned the Sons in Service banner as it was called, on the floor of the House of Representatives on September 9, 1917 this way:
“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.”
With that, President Woodrow Wilson formally recognized the banner in early 1918 and called it the Service Flag with one addition. When a serviceman had given the ultimate sacrifice in times of war, a gold star would be superimposed on the blue, leaving just a thin blue border.
By 1928, the Gold Star Mothers became a service organization dedicated to assisting the family of service members killed in action. The gold star placed over a blue star on the service banner proudly displays the family’s service.
Although active in service for many years, like the gold star mothers before them, the Blue Star Mothers was founded as an additional service organization in 1942 to help those families with sons in active service.
By this time the use of the Service flag was so widespread that the Department of Defense codified the design, the manufacture of the banner and the proper way to display it at home or business. In short, the banner should always be displayed indoors in a front window. If a U.S. flag is added it should be placed above the service flag. The proper way to display the gold star is always above the blue ones.
The Vietnam War so so unpopular at home that the service banner wasn’t used regularly. However, by the Gulf War in 1991 and subsequent conflicts, the service banner has been steadily gaining favor and making it back into America’s consciousness once again as a symbol of national service.
Genevieve “Sugar” Mulvaney actually wrote a song about the Service Banner in 1945 called “There’s a Star in My Window For You.”
Your family may qualify for a Service Banner. Contact the following organizations for help and assistance:
The American Gold Star Mothers: http://www.goldstarmoms.com/index.htm
The Blue Star Mothers of America: