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PSA: Blue Star Service Flags.

This recently came up in militaryspouses; most of it's a repeat if you followed the thread of "I don't knows" there where someone asked "Is it true that a blue star represents a loved one in the war?". (If you're not a member, it was a protected entry and you're not missing anything.)

History of the Blue Star Service Flag (or Banner)

The Blue Star Service Flag was created by R. L. Queisser, a former U.S. Army officer (Captain, 5th Ohio Infantry), in honor of his two sons who were serving in Europe during World War I.

The Service Flag is authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families who have members serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities the United States may be engaged in for the duration of such hostilities.

Those family members are defined as: the wife, husband, mother, father, 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 Armed Forces of the United States.

The flag should be displayed in a window of the residence of person who are members of the immediate family. It may also be displayed by an organization to honor the members of that organization serving in the Armed Forces during a period of war or hostilities.

The Service Flag, Banner, and Lapel Button are regulated by the U.S. Department of Defense, by act of Congress (see 36 U.S.C. 179-182). The pertinent sections are found in Department of Defense Directive 1348.20, 1 December 1967. Those excerpts and a list of authorized Service Flag manufacturers are on the Service Flag and Lapel Button Fact Sheet.

Where to get your own Blue Star Service Banner

Searching Google for "blue star service flag" or "blue star service banner" will come up with several more vendors, but I've dealt with both of the following.

American Legion Emblem Catalog

Offers a mail catalog, secure website and phone (888-453-4466) for ordering. They carry the following service flag items:
- Blue Star service banners (8x16", one through five stars, item 72982, 72982.2, 72982.3, 72982.4 and 72982.5, $6.95)
- Blue Star poster (25 8.5x11" prints, item 72977, $5.95)
- Blue Star home window decal (8x16", static cling, item 75015, $4.95)
- Car-sized Blue Star flag decals (3x6" static cling, one through three stars, items 75016, 75016.2 and 75016.3, $2.95)
- Blue Star outdoor flag (has the words "We Honor Those Who Serve" above and below a horizontal one-star banner on a white background, 3x5', item 72989, $39.95)
- Blue Star tack pin (one through three stars, items 71845, 71845.2, and 71845.3, $4.95)
- Blue Star flag yard sign (the banner next to the words "Proudly Serving America"; item 74348, $3.95)

ServiceFlags.com

ServiceFlags.com custom makes all of their flags -- if you want one to pass on to future generations, I recommend them since all of their flags are flock on wool-blended felt. (Most service flags for indoor display are printed nylon.) They also offer custom lettering on their flags, so you could have your loved one's name and branch of service put on the flag as well. Note: They are temporarily out of stock while waiting on a new shipment of materials, but expect to be taking orders for flags again on 28 March. They're still taking orders on their other products.
What they offer:
- Blue Star service banners (one through five stars, $16.75 or one or two plus custom lettering, $23.95)
- Blue Star lapel pin ($3.50)
- Unity pin -- a Blue Star flag over an American-flag-printed ribbon ($3.95)
- Car-sized Blue Star flag decals (3x6" static cling, one through five stars, $2.50)
- Unity decal -- same print as the unity pin above the words "In Honor Of Those Serving Our Country" (3.5x6" static cling, $2.50)
- Support Car Flags -- same print as the unity decal with the addition of the branches to either side of the flag/ribbon print (12"x16" polyester flag printed on both sides, 18" pole, $12.99)

Other sources
- Printable versions of the one, two and three-star Blue Star Service Flag are available from the Blue Star Mothers site.
- Flags of Yore is a DoD-approved vendor that offers 8x15" cotton Service Banners for $25 and can custom-make one to your specified size, fabric, etc..
- Annin is a DoD-approved vendor for Service Banners; theirs are available from local flag shops and many national chains (my local Wal-Mart carries them).
- United States Flag Store offers 8x15" blended wool felt banners for $19.50 or customized with lettering for $23.50.
- The Flag Company is a DoD-approved vendor that carries Service Flags in various sizes for indoor (8x12" to 12x18", starting at $12 for the economy printed version) and outdoor (3'x5', $26) use.
- Gideon Flags is a DoD-approved vendor that offers the Service Flag lapel pin ($9.95), a Service Flag and US Flag pin ($9.95), a full-size Service flag in nylon or cotton bunting (32" x 60", $82.90), a fully-sewn nylon window banner (10" x 19", $29.95), and a printed nylon window banner (8" x 15", made by another DoD-approved wholesaler -- I'd guess Annin, $16.95).

If you'd like to make your own, I found a few sources with the specifications and (some) instructions: using felt, using quilting techniques, and a complete kit you can buy for $20.

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oddharmonic
Melissa, starry-eyed soy-lovin' Expatriated Zulu

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