During the first World War, Army Capt. Robert L. Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry who
had two sons serving on the front line designed a banner to be hung in the front window of his home showing two blue stars on a field of white bordered by red . It quickly became the
unofficial symbol for families wanting to show they had a sons or daughters in the service. During World War II the Department of War issued specifications for the banner, including the size and who could display it. It was typically 8.5 by 14 inches, but sometimes larger or smaller, as long as it followed the same proportions of the US Flag.
Families proudly hung these banners in their front windows during times of conflict to show everyone they had family members in uniform in service to the country. Generally a banner can have up to five blue stars, showing that there were five members of the same family in the service at one time. My grandmother, Matty Johnston, proudly hung her banner in her front window during WWII with SIX blue stars. All six of her sons wore the uniform of our armed services during that time. Three were in the Navy and three were in the Army.
If a service member was killed in action, a smaller gold star was superimposed over the blue star, showing a blue border. None of my grandmother's stars had the small gold star on any of the blue ones. These banners were widely used during the two World Wars, but were not as popular during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. After September 11, 2001, the American Legion started to rekindle the spirit of patriotism and pride in our military by making the banners available across the country for families with sons and daughters serving in uniform now. The banners can be ordered from the American Legion, or made by hand and hung in the windows of American families with members in the armed forces. Corporate flags are also available for companies who wish to show their support to the families of their employees who are serving in the military.
It is a nice tradition, and a patriotic way to show our support for the troops. If you have family members serving now, consider hanging a Blue Star Service Banner in your front window.