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Blue Star Banner

Blue Star Banner
Blue Star Banner
  • Year First Flown: 1917
  • Name: Blue Star Banner, Blue Star Flag, or Service Flag
  • Created By: Captain Robert L. Queissner
  • Design: A red flag, with a white rectangle, and a blue star in the very middle.
  • Use: To signify a family member who currently serves or passed away while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

History

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Captain Robert Queissner, designer of the Blue Star Banner

The first Blue Star Banner appeared in 1917, when an Army captain named Robert Queissner designed it as a tribute to his two sons serving in WWI. Queissner was a Captain of the 5th Ohio Infantry, and his two sons were stationed on the front lines in Europe. The flag quickly became very popular, and many Americans used it as an unofficial mark of a child in service. In 1917, President Wilson approved a suggestion made by the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense that mothers who lost a child to the war wear a gold star on the traditional black mourning arm band. This led to the custom of covering the blue star with a gold star when the service member that the flag honored died in battle. Throughout WWII, using the Blue Star Banner to signify a child at war became a much more popular practice. By the end of WWI, the flag was made official when the Department of War issued specifications on the manufacture of the banner and guidelines indicating when the flag could be flown.

Design

WWII Propaganda Poster displaying Blue Star Banner Flags
WWII Propaganda Poster displaying Blue Star Banner Flags

These flags can have multiple stars on them, with each blue star representing a family member in active duty. A blue star is covered with a gold star when that family member passes in service. If there are several stars displayed on one flag, the gold star takes precedence and is placed at the top of the flag. Blue and gold are the only colors officially used on a service flag, but a silver flag is sometimes used to signify those that have been wounded in military service.

Proper Display

Blue Star Banner displayed in the window of a U.S. Soldier's home in America
Blue Star Banner displayed in the window of a U.S. Soldier's home in America

The Department of Defense has issued specific guidelines for the display of service flags like the Blue Star Banner. This flag may be displayed in a window of the home of the immediate family of those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during any period of war that the U.S. is engaged in. "Immediate family" members include: wife, husband, mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, parent through adoption, foster parents who stand or stood in "loco parentis", children, stepchildren, children through adoption, brothers, sisters, half brothers, and half sisters of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Organizations may also fly the Blue Star Banner to honor their members that are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. "Organization" is defined as: churches, schools, colleges, fraternities, sororities, societies, and places of business. This flag is considered an indoor flag and should be displayed facing out from a window of the building. If the American Flag is displayed with the Blue Star Banner, the American Flag should be of equal or greater size and should be placed in a higher position. For a more detailed version of these rules, the instructions can be found in section 1348.33-M of the DOD Manual of Military Decorations and Awards