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History of the Service Member Flag

The history of the Service Flag is as patriotic and touching as the symbolism each star represents to the families who display them.

The service flag was designed by a World War I Army Captain of the 5th Ohio Infantry who had two sons serving on the front lines. The flag quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in service.

President Wilson in 1918 approved a suggestion by the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense that mothers who had lost a child serving in the war to wear a gold gilt star on the tradtional black mourning arm band. This led to the tradition to cover the blue star with a gold star on the Service flag to indicate that the service member has died or been killed. The symbolic blue star represents hope and pride and the gold star represents sacrifice to the cause of liberty and freedom.

During World War II, the practice of displaying the Service flag, became much more widespread. In 1942, the Blue Star Mothers of America was founded as a veteran service organization and was part of a movement to provide care packages to military members serving overseas and assistance to the service member families. Virtually every home and organization displayed banners to indicte the number of members of the family or organization serving in the Armed Forces, and again, covered those blue stars with a gold star to represent each member that died.

In 1960, Congress chartered the Blue Star Mothers of America as a Veterans Service Organization and in 1966, the Department of Defense revised the specifications for the design, manufacture and display of the Service Flag.

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