The Blue Star Banner Tradition


Last evening, Mother Goose was invited to attend a monthly get-together of U.S. Marine families in our area. They are a very friendly, a very sociable bunch of folks and it was very gracious of them to invite a Navy mom to their gathering. As you might expect, there was food and beverages…

By my best guesstimation, I would say there were approximately 10 or 12 families represented and sitting around the tables. A large portion of their monthly times is devoted to just getting to know each other, discussing their sons and daughters who serve and then listening to a guest speaker talk on a military family topic. Last night’s topic, “Preparing for Deployment” answered many of the parents’ questions. Gunnery Sgt. Luke, a local Marine recruiter, spoke from his own personal experience and from his heart about what the Marine and his family can expect in the months leading up to a deployment.

In addition, Mother Goose was asked to step to the front of the room and do a brief talk about the Blue Star Banner tradition, a topic near and dear to my heart. Many of my readers are aware of this grand old tradition, but for those of you who are new to military family life, please sit back and listen to this story.

The year is 1917. America’s brave troops are fighting in the trenches and on the front lines in Europe — it’s called The Great War not because any war is great, but because the greatest powers in the world are struggling to subdue tyrannical governments and prevent the spread of German imperialism. It was also great in terms of loss of life — in total more than nine million combatants were killed in the four years of war and strife.

The place is Ohio, USA where Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of the 5th Ohio Infantry is praying for the safe return of his own two sons from the European arena of battle. With a goal of honoring his sons and their service to the United States, he designed and patented a banner that would symbolize for generations to come the service and sacrifice of sons and daughters, husbands and wives in the U.S. military.

The Blue Star Banner was quickly adopted by the public and the U.S. government as an official emblem of military service.

Captain Queisser hung his banner in the front window of his home and soon more and more banners appeared in the windows and doors of military families across the nation. Besides the obvious honor of showing the world a family’s pride and patriotism, the banner also served as a way to connect with other families with deployed loved ones. The banner has remained essentially pure in its design and tradition for nearly one hundred years.

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However, it soon became obvious that when a family had lost a son or daughter to the price of freedom and the cause of liberty, a special change must be made to their banner. At that time and to this day, a Gold Star on this banner represents the ultimate sacrifice for that family. Their courage and love bear witness to our nation’s bravest men and women. When we see a Gold Star Banner in the window, we are reminded that freedom is never free.

The tradition of hanging these beautiful banners in our windows continued into the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and then into our most recent wars on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Hollywood recognizes the significance of this tradition. If you watch carefully, you’ll see them in these movies:

The Fighting Sullivans
Flags of our Fathers
Saving Private Ryan
It’s a Wonderful Life
Benny and Joon
Working Miracles

In an ongoing mission to elevate the awareness of the Blue Star Banner tradition, Mother Goose was proud to present Blue Star Banners to five of the U.S. Marine families at their meeting last night. Semper Fi.

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2 thoughts on “The Blue Star Banner Tradition

  1. I’m so glad for a little history on the tradition! Your involvement in this magnificent program is special for each family, I’m sure. I think someone with a commitment should adopt a similar effort in SoCal…I have never seen a banner placed in a window or displayed so that it is clearly visible. I think that’s a shame…and I wonder why? I might have to ask around a bit!

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