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What Is A Blue Star Family? Everything You Need To Know

During times of war, if you’ve ever driven through an American neighborhood, you may have noticed some houses have small flags with a blue star hanging in a window. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Texas, New York, or California, the banners are all the same and they hang quietly, solemnly in house windows.

These Blue Star Banners can have one star or up to five and each blue star represents a loved one serving in the military during time of war. A home with a Blue Star Banner means that family is a Blue Star Family.

What is a Blue Star Family?
A Blue Star Family is the immediate family of a U.S. military member who is serving during war. They are authorized by the U.S. government to hang the Blue Star Banner from their residence for others to see.

What is a Blue Star Family history?
The Blue Star Banner was designed in 1917 by businessman and National Guard officer Capt. Robert L. Queisser. He had two sons serving in World War I and Queisser wanted to show his pride and support.

three modern and older blue star flags

His original and patented design included a solitary blue star to indicate one family member was in military service and in conflict. Individuals who fly the Blue Star Banner are therefore considered Blue Star families.

What is a Blue Star Family eligibility?
According to a U.S. Congressional resolution from 2013, the “…Blue Star Service Flag is the official banner authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families who have members serving in the United States Armed Forces during any period of war or armed hostilities the Nation may be engaged in for the duration of such hostilities.”

Immediate family members are permitted to hang the Blue Star Banner prominently in support of their loved ones. Those people include:

  • Spouses
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Stepparents
  • Stepchildren, stepsiblings, half-siblings
  • Adopted parents
  • Adopted children and adopted siblings of a United States service member.

What is a Blue Star Family technically?
Some people believe that a Blue Star family is anyone who fits the aforementioned criteria and has a service member in service on active duty or serving in the guard or reserve. Technically, since the Global War on Terrorism has not been formally ended, some families who serve in the military, but are not deployed, consider themselves military families since they have a loved one who is serving in the military during a time of war.

Antique photo of woman putting blue star flag in window

Others believe that the loved one has to be forward deployed, in a combat zone, in order for the family to be a Blue Star family.

Congress and Blue Star organizations do not stipulate that a service member must be forward deployed. They only state that the service member must service during time of war.

What is a Blue Star Family banner specifically?
The War Department during World War II issued specifications for the Blue Star Banner. They clearly outlined when the flag could be hung, by whom and they also issued restrictions on who could wear the lapel pin.

The Blue Star Banner must have an 8.5-inches by 14 inches white field with at least one blue star, and no more than five, sewn onto a red banner.

What is a Blue Star Family compared to a Gold Star Family?
As previously stated, a Blue Star Family is a military family with a loved one who is serving in the U.S. military during a time of conflict.

Antique photo of many women waving american flag

A Gold Star Family is a military family which has lost a loved one during war. If a Blue Star Family has a loved one that dies in combat, that blue star becomes a gold star to show that the family’s loved one was killed.

If the family has multiple service members in the ranks, and one dies, then the highest star on the banner becomes gold and the remaining blue stars are aligned underneath the gold star.

The gold star was approved by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918 at the urging of mothers who had family killed in war. The approval meant that mothers who lost a child in the war could wear a gold star on the traditional black mourning armband. That eventually led to placing a Gold Star on the Blue Star Banner indicating that the service member had died.

What is a Blue Star Family lapel pin?
The Blue Star lapel pin debuted during World War II for wear by family members of those serving in World War II. However, it was not until 1967 that formal guidance was issued by the U.S. Defense Department. The use of the banner and lapel pin was also codified in the U.S. Code.

What is a Blue Star Family non-profit?
There are numerous charities and non-profits that have “Blue Star” in their names. None are officially a part of the U.S. government, but some are chartered by the U.S. Congress and have existed since World War I, including some founded by Gold Star families.

Most of these organizations are open to military families who fit the eligibility to be a Blue Star Family. Many of these organizations help military families and raise awareness of Blue Star family sacrifices.

Modern Blue Star Flag

What is a Blue Star Family today?
The Blue Star movement has made a comeback. After World War II, a war-weary American public lost traction with the Blue Star program. It did not fall completely out of sight, but conflicts in Korea and Vietnam dampened a lot of public support.

During the Cold War, the program grew quiet, but after 9/11 there was a groundswell of support for U.S. military personnel and the Blue Star Banners made a comeback. Today, many families still fly the banners and in addition to lapel pins, there are also automotive decals and other items that can show the public the pride of a Blue Star Family.

What is a Blue Star Family in simple terms?
The families of those protecting America are Blue Star families. They deserve the nation’s respect and admiration.