Michelle and Mark Asher of Elmwood received a Blue Star Banner. Their son, Hawk Asher, is a Seaman on the USS Larsen, a guided missile destroyer deployed in the Persian Gulf. Grandfather Doug Gunderson of Amery American Legion Post 169 is making the presentation

These days, it is not uncommon to see a banner, ribbon or color for almost everything. It may seem hard to keep track of all the causes that ribbons are worn to support. During Veterans Day though, it is especially important to acknowledge the significance of military service banners.

The nation’s service members put their lives on the line, and one of the ways to say thank you is by flying service banners in their honor. Each banner has a specific meaning and is flown at a specific time.

The blue star banner is probably the most widely known of the service banners. It has one blue star on a white field and is edged on all four sides with a red border. The star of this flag represents a loved one in service, either overseas or at home. Traditionally, you would hang this banner in the window of your house to represent that you have a family member serving our country. Additional stars can be added to the same flag if you have multiple family members in service. Sometimes a business or organization will hang a blue star banner to represent an employee’s active duty status.

According to My Blue Star Flag, the first banner to commemorate someone’s military service was flown in 1917 when an Army captain had two sons fighting on the front lines. The flag was adopted as the unofficial representation for a child in service. Later, it started being used to honor loved ones of all ages that serve their country.

The gold star banner is used in much the same way as the blue star banner. When the unfortunate news of a family member’s death is delivered, a gold one replaces the blue star. If you see a gold star banner, you know the family has had a loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

In April 2010, the House of Representatives voted to pass House Resolution 855, which allows a silver star to represent service members who have been discharged due to wounding.

All of the banners originate with the blue star banner. The blue star banner is the only official service banner of the United States Armed Forces. Any reference to a “service banner” is referring to the blue star banner.

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