Gold Star Mothers/Sons in Service Flag
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The "Sons in Service" flag was used during World War I and World War II. Each family was entitled to hang a small Son In Service flag in their window; the blue star in the center of the red-bordered white rectangle signified a family member in active service. The star was replaced (or covered) with a gold star (in practice, yellow or dark yellow) if the family member died in action. (Hence the name of the organization "Gold Star Mothers" of women who had lost sons in the war.) There were other variations to the star for missing in action, injured, captured, etc, etc, but flags of that sort are rarely, if ever, seen.
Sons in Service flags made and used by families usually were no larger
than about one foot long. They were always hung vertically, a stick being
sewn into the top heading of the flag and a piece of string attached to
both ends of the stick - the string suspended at its midpoint from a hook
or some other feature of a front window of the home.
If a family had a husband and a son, or multiple family members in the
service of their country, then additional blue stars were set into the
white rectangle. Organizations and corporations extended this practice to
fly flags incorporating stars for each of their members/employees who were
off to war and, of course, would change/overlay the blue stars with gold
ones when the news came back that one of theirs had died in action. These
larger flags (some 50 stars in a circle, a quarter of them in gold,
measuring about 8 feet long overall) were sometimes flown outside on a
pole, but most often were suspended from the ceiling of the factory /
meeting hall indoors.
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