- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2003

The last time America went to war with Iraq, families chose yellow ribbons to honor loved ones sent to fight. Now, with the prospect of another war, families are hanging red, white and blue banners.
The Blue Star Service Banner, a common sight in the windows of American families during World War I and II, is simple in design a blue star, embraced by a white background and red border.
It is making a slow comeback with the assistance of the American Legion, a veterans organization based out of Indianapolis and Washington.
"The legion certainly believes it is high time to recognize those who are fighting the war on terrorism," said American Legion spokesman Steve Thomas. "And it's absolutely fitting to hang the flags for those who have been deployed for the possible war in Iraq, because it reminds neighbors of how proud these families are."
The Blue Star Service Banner began to disappear after World War II. Created in 1917, the banner was placed in windows to denote a member of the family was serving in the armed forces.
The blue star represents one family member serving in the armed forces and the banner can have up to five stars, symbolizing additional family members on active duty.
A gold star replaces the blue star if the relative is killed or dies in service. If more than one star appears on the flag, the gold star takes the place of honor nearest the staff.
"We believe a display of a Blue Star Service Banner will reveal to everyone just how close to home this battle hits," said Robert Morrill, the Legion's national public relations commission chairman. "Our goal is to honor and recognize our men and women in uniform and to demonstrate to all Americans how many families have a personal stake in this battle."
Twelve days before the September 11 attacks, the American Legion adopted a resolution to rekindle the service banner. Banner sales got off to a slow start shortly after the terrorist attacks because Americans were choosing to buy U.S. flags instead, legion officials said.
But banner sales picked up when President Bush sent troops into Afghanistan. In 2002, the American Legion sold about 71,000 blue banners. So far, they have sold about 17,000 banners in 2003 4,500 of which were sold in the first 10 days of February.
Veteran Larry Vollmer told the Scripps Howard News Service that he remembers the lack of support he received when he returned from Vietnam in 1968. He wants to make sure his hometown of Jasper, Ind., shows support this time.
The Dubois County Courthouse, at his request, has hung a Blue Star Service Banner. "When the troops see this, they'll know the people back home are supporting them," he said. "They'll come back to the county with a much better feeling."


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