Gold Star Mothers and Service Banners
History of Blue and Gold Star Banners
Service Banners have been a tradition since World War I and are for display by families who have sons and daughters in uniform in an armed conflict which lead to the formation of God Star Mothers. The banners are red and white with blue or gold stars, or sometimes both colors. The flags may have one or more stars.
The blue star service flag came first in 1917, after America entered World War I. A United State Army Captain, Robert L. Queissner, of Ohio created the banner to honor his two sons where were serving in the Army in France. It was immediately so popular the Governor of Ohio adopted the flag as a symbol of service. Then they the banners spread quickly to numerous communities.
A group of Indiana women with sons in the service organized the American War Mothers on September 27, 1917. Members displayed the blue star banners in their windows of their homes. As soldiers were killed in action they decided to sew a gold star over the blue star.
In May 1918, President Woodrow Wilson officially endorsed the gold star to reflect a child that died in wartime service. Also, the Council of national Defense suggested that woman who had lost a son wear a black armband with a gold star. President Wilson agreed and referred to these women as “Gold Star Mothers.” Many families hung the American Flag, then the blue or gold star flag in their window as patriotism was very high.
Gold Star Flag
Gold Star Mother's Day
In 1925, American War Mothers obtained a national charter from Congress. Then in 1936, Congress recognized God Star Mothers and proclaimed that the last Sunday of every September was “Gold Start Mothers Day.” During Work War II, the display of these blue star and gold star banners reached an all time high. Theodore Roosevelt's family had a banner with a gold star in honor of their son who was shot down over France in 1918.
This was a wonderful tribute to the fallen soldier and it recognizes the worse grief a parent will ever have to endure.
Rob Raubeson, Banner Maker
Rob Raubeson- A Banner Making Day
Today, service flags are black. In Soldiers Magazine Elizabeth Cole wrote an article called “Honoring service members one stitch at a time.” She wrote of Rod Raubeson’s dedication as he has sewn 3,500 flags on an old Singer sewing machine and plans to continue working. He was inspired four years ago when he couldn’t find the banner he wanted to purchase in honor or a friend that was about to deploy.
The flags can be symbols of patience, hope and worry, or of honor, grief and ultimate sacrifice. Raubeson is a 70 year old Marine Vietnam Vet and has been recognized by the Army’s Institute of Heraldry as an official service flag maker. Any one who wants a flag may contact him at his email address: email@example.com.
The banners are 12” by 17” and on a busy 12 hour day Raubeson can make 10-12 banners which include painting the wooden hangers which come from small flags used to decorate veteran’s graves. He doesn’t accept donations but is in talks with Singer for supplies. He is not in a partnership for help with the cost of shipping, and the banners are gifts to families.
Raubeson has declined to say how much banner making costs him. He is a non-profit corporation and working on a website. He treasures the Thank You notes and comments from families. Churches, schools, fraternities, sororities, society groups and businesses that have members service can also hang the banners. He is truly a hero! He helps those coping with a lost of a family member, which is one of the worst things that can happen for a parent, or a spouse.
There are other flag stores and the American Legion where banners may be purchased as well.
Directions for Making a Banner
Making the banners is fairly easy for anyone with a some sewing experience and a sewing machine, so you are interested in making a banner the directions are below.. You can add gold fringe and the number of stars necessary for your situation. . These directions came from the following quilting website and I give them full credit. http://with-heart-and-hands.blogspot.com/2008/03/directions-for-making-blue-or-gold-star.html.
- 1.To Make a Blue or Gold Star Service Banner you need basic sewing supplies and fabrics of red ( for (4) 2 1/2" strips), white ( for a 9" x 14" center panel) and blue ( for a star that is about 7" x 7") I chose to make mine a quilted banner, so I also used a thin batting.
- 2. The 2 1/2" red borders are attached to both of the sides and then both the upper and lower edges. Trim evenly to size. By using a machined zigzag stitch or turning under and hand sewing, the star is then appliquéd to the background (white) fabric and through the batting.
- 3. Right sides together, seam front and back together, leaving a small side opening for turning right sides out.
- 4. A narrow 'quilting rod' sleeve can either be hand or machine sewn on the backing. I show it here with a cord indicating its location. Fold it under to the back and slip stitch down for the final project.
- 5. I also added free-motion or meander quilting stitches throughout the center panel's surface to create a decorative effect and emphasis the quilted banner aspect.
- 6. To
'hang', insert a wooden dowel or curtain rod through the quilt sleeve unit
in the back and hang with decorative cording, as desired.
As an alternative hanging method, you can use two narrow hanging loops and insert the rod through them. Make them with two pieces of 2 1/2" strips stitched down or seamed right sides together. Iron flat, and insert between sandwiched layers while stitching top seam in Step #2.
The Blue and Gold Star Banners are a time honored tradition and is especially important to those that have lost a loved one in battle. I found the history of the Gold Star Mothers to be interesting and the service of Rod Raubeson to be inspiring. He is giving his time, his money and talent to serve a special need and giving so much of himself would make him a hero in my book.
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© 2010 Pamela Oglesby