Service Flags


Blue Star Flag

Gold Star Flag

A Service Flag in the United States is an official banner that family members of service members in harm’s way can display.

The flag or banner is defined as a white field with a red border, with a blue star for each family member in active duty. A gold star (with a blue edge) represents a family member that died during service, without specifying cause of death. The deceased might have been killed in action, or died due to unrelated causes.

The Service Flag can also be called a Blue Star Service Banner or a Gold Star Service Banner depending on the color of the stars.

The banner was designed in 1917 by United States Captain Robert L. Queisser of the Fifth Ohio Infantry, in honor of his two sons who were serving in World War I. It was quickly adopted by the public and by government officials. On September 24, 1917, an Ohio congressman read 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 give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in the world to a father and mother: their children.”

These flags were first used in World War I, with subsequent standardization and codification by the end of World War II. They were not popular during the Vietnam Conflict but have come back into use.

Manufacture of these flags are only by specific government license in the territories under American jurisdiction. The same section of the U.S. code that limits manufacture of the banner also mentions lapel pins. There is no legal specification of the banner’s size. According to the Department of Defense code, the flag size ration must by 1:1.9. When displayed with the national flag, the latter should take the place of honor. If the flags displayed differ in size, the national flag should be larger.

Blue and gold are the only colors specified for use, but some say silver stars are customary for those discharged from service because of wounds. Silver Star Families is an organization attempting to encourage the U.S. Congress to make the Silver Star official for those wounded in military service. There is no analogous banner known in other countries.

The Purple Heart


Purple Heart


Military Decoration
Awarded by the United States of America

The Purple Heart was established by General George Washington at Newburgh, New York, on August 7, 1782, during the Revolutionary War. It was reestablished by the President of the United States per War Department General Orders 3, 1932 and is currently awarded pursuant to Executive Order 11016, April 25, 1962, Executive Order 12464, February 23, 1984 and Public Law 98-525, October 19, 1984.

a. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of an Armed Force or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after April 5, 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded

(1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.

(2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged.

(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

(4) As a result of an act of any enemy of opposing armed forces.

(5) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.

(6) After March 28, 1073, as a result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such attack by the Secretary of the Army, or jointly by the Secretaries of the separate armed services concerned if persons from more than one service are wounded in the attack.

(7) After March 28, 1973, as a result of military operations while serving outside the territory of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.

b. While clearly an individual decoration, the Purple Heart differs from all other decoration in that an individual is not “recommended” for the decoration, rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.

c. A Purple Heart will be issued to the next of kin of each person entitled to a posthumous award. Issue will be made automatically by the Commanding General, PERSCOM, upon receiving a report of death indicating entitlement.

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