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From John L. Wolf

By Staff | Apr 15, 2009

History of the “Freedom Flag.”

Display of the blue star banner came about during WW I. Each blue star on the flag represents a service member in active duty. If a hero was killed during the war, a gold star was sewn over the blue star. During WW I and WW II, most flags were handmade by mothers across the nation. One of the most famous flags was that of the five Sullivan brothers who all perished on the U.S.S Juneau.

On March 8, 1942, more than 600 mothers organized the “Blue Star Mothers of America Inc.” Chapters formed quickly around the nation and the blue stars of WW I reappeared in the windows of American homes once again. It was not unusual for a window to display more than one flag. (A single flag with multiple stars.) Indeed the big house in Waterloo, Iowa, displayed five blue stars for the sons of Tom and Alleta Sullivan who had joined the Navy together.

Also during WW II, it was not uncommon to see one or more of each color star in a living room window. Incredibly, the tragedy of one blue star turning gold could not keep a brother from answering the call to duty. In January 1944, the five blue stars in the Sullivan home were all replaced with gold stars.

The blue star flag symbolized a pride in the commitment of America’s youth and a reminder of the gravity of the entire war effort: rationing, working, that “loose lips sink ships”, and not to travel unless for the war effort.

Blue star mothers also dedicated themselves to personal efforts, creating and mailing the care packages that meant so much to a soldier away from home, working with and supporting the U.S.O programs to build the morale of the loved ones abroad and even visitation and care for returning wounded soldiers in area hospitals.

The practice of the blue and gold star flag displayed in windows did not see widespread recognition during the Korean war or the Vietnam conflict. Combined however, those two wars resulted in more than 100,000 gold star mothers on windows being added to the ranks of the grieving and while membership in both organizations today is quite low, there are current memberships from even Desert Storm.

Display of a service star banner is done during time of war, to honor those serving in the Armed Forces. Hang one in your home or office to let neighbors know you have a loved one on military duty.

John L. Wolf

New Martinsville