For the second year the American Legion has honored active duty service men and women by sponsoring the Blue Star Banner Program.

The Blue Star Service Banner Program was designed and patented in 1917 by World War I Army Capt. Robert L. Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry. Queissner had two sons serving in the front line in France. The banner quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in service.

On Sept. 24, 1917, an Ohio Congressman read the following into the Congressional Record: “The mayor of Cleveland, the Chamber of Commerce, and the governor of Ohio have adopted this service flag. The world should know of those who gave so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a mother and father—their children.”

During World War II, the Department of War issued specifications on the manufacture of the flag as well as guidelines dictating when and by whom the Service flag could be flown or when the Service Lapel button could be worn.

Typically, the Blue Star Service Banner displayed in windows in an 8.5 by 14 inch white field with a blue star sewn onto a red banner. A banner can contain more than one star. There can be one for each child in service. The size can vary, but the banner should be in proportion to the U.S. Flag.

The blue star represents one family member in active duty in the armed forces. There can be as many as five stars on one banner.

The Blue Star Service Banners are displayed by families who have a loved one serving in the armed forces, including the National Guard and Reserves of all military departments.

The banners, widely used in the periods of the two world wars, were not embraced during the Korean and Vietnam wars. The use of the banners had nearly disappeared.

The American Legion has rekindled the program. In the difficult period of the “war on terrorism,” the use of the banner reminds us of the sacrifices of our active duty personnel and that the war touches every neighborhood in our land.

This year American Legion Post 49 of Orange stepped to the front and presented the banners to the families of ten active duty personnel.

Banners were presented to: Arliss Castle for grandson John Castle; U.S. Army, Tony Doiron for brother Sgt 1st Class Charles Doiron; Ronna Granger for son Sgt. Thomas Hope; Roy Nation for grandson Sgt Tyler W. Nation; Maridee and Douglas Stanley for son Petty Officer Rodney Saucelo; Cecelia Pillsbury for son 1st Sgt Richard Pillsbury; Kurt Stephenson for son Kurt A. Stephenson, USMC; Terry Vincent for son Pvt. Traylon W. Vincent; Willie Jones for daughter Lt. Col. Dana Flood; and Gail Langton for son Airman 1st Class Charles P. Mckinney.

The program was opened by Post Commander John Ochs and Ladies Auxiliary President Dianne Bankston. Ochs called for the presentation of service flags by Janice Bankston, Xander Steele, Taylor Fountain, and Tatum Fountain dressed in fatigues and caps representing the branch of service they were representing. The fifth flag presenter Dillon Potter was dressed in his Naval ROTC uniform. Potter is evidence that service to our nation will be carried on by his generation.

Colors were posted and later retired, by the Southeast Texas Veterans Service Group. The four person group was dressed in U.S. Army dress blue uniform and marched with drill team presentation under the command of the Sgt. Maj.
The families were recognized and presented a plaque for the person in service, the Blue Star Banner for the family, and a Challenge coin.

“We are pleased to do this to show our support for both the family and the person in service. This is something we plan to do each year as a part of our Post activities. We are a veteran’s organization and we want to try to make people aware of the sacrifices that the family has to make while their loved one is away from home. We hope that each family will proudly display the banner and let their friends and neighbors know that they have a family member who is away from home and in the service of our country,” said Gary Alford, Post Adjutant.

“Our Post is welcoming new members. If anyone is a veteran of any branch of the military, whether or not you have overseas service, you may become a member of the American Legion. If you have any questions about our Post or how to become a member please call us at 409-886-1241 or visit our website,,” said Ochs.