Authorized by the U.S. Department of Defense, the service flag is a banner which may be displayed by families of members of the Armed Forces during times of war or hostilities. Depending on the number of family members at war, the banner has one or more blue or gold stars on a red-bordered white rectangle.

Origins

The idea for the service flag came from a U.S. Army Captain named Robert L. Queissner, whose two sons were serving on the front line during World War I. It became traditional to replace the blue star with a gold star if the soldier had died.

Meaning of Colors

According to USFlag.org, the blue star symbolizes hope and pride, while the gold star stands for the sacrifice made for honor and freedom.

World War II

The practice of displaying the service flag became common during World War II as a way to indicate how many family members were away at war.

Who Can Display the Flag

The Department of Defense stipulates that the flag is only to be displayed by a wife, husband, mother, father, children, step-father and step-children, or brother or sister of a member of the Armed Forces. It can also be displayed by an organization to recognize its members who are serving during a time of war.

How To Display

The service flag is an indoor flag meant to be displayed in a front window. The U.S. flag is always to take the place of honor above the service flag.