Friday, March 28, 2008

Blue Star and Gold Star Service Banners


Charlie Gibson of ABC News has named Rod Raubeson, former Marine who taught himself to sew on a 70 year old Singer sewing machine as the "Person of the Week."

Raubeson who served more than 40 years ago in the Marines, tried to find a 'service banner'..something that was once commonly used on those homes with a family member in the Armed Services.

Disappointed by the fading of a once honored tradition, he taught himself to sew and made his own. Today, you can find him at his sewing machine, creating service star banners for the families of those who currently serve in one of the Armed Services.

As Raubeson says, "When I started the banner project, I anticipated I would probably end up doing 200, 300 flags, and the war would be over."

But so far he has made 3,000 banners: 1,500 blue and 1,500 gold. A blue star banner means a family has a loved one serving in the military. A gold star signifies a loved one killed in action.

Raubeson is only able to make a few banners a day and his name never appears on any of them. He figures he's left his mark, anyway.

"There are not too many of these banners that don't have a prick of blood from a needle that carelessly stuck in my thumb, and certainly many of them have tears in them. But don't worry folks, they're washed before they're sent out!"

Raubeson not only taught himself to sew, using a 70 year old Singer sewing machine, but he also uses a rotary cutter and mat. Each piece of fabric is cut by hand, and each panel is exactly the same. Raubeson creates a perfectly crisp seam, reminiscent of a soldier's dress uniform, then stitches the 12-by-17-inch banners up to the clickety-clack of his sewing machine.
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"When I am sewing, a lot of the time I flash back to being a machine gunner," Raubeson said. "I can send off a burst of six stitches, and I know it's six stitches!"

Service banners while common during World Wars I and II, had pretty much disappeared by the Vietnam War...replaced by the yellow ribbons and the wish for soldiers to be able to return home, again.

But now, thanks to Rob, at least 3,000 of them are being hung up in windows once more. And as he says, when you see a Blue Star family, think of them with respect and regard. But when you see a gold star, remember that they have given up a priceless gift..they've lost a member of their own family.

Community service is a precious thing and I know that Rob is making a difference in his community and communities everywhere. But I can't help but think it might be time to hang out some yellow ribbons, as well.
ABC news video:
Vet's Mission to Honor Soldiers Mar. 28, 2008

Links:
If you are interested in making a banner or quilt using this flag go to the Quilter's Cache to learn how to make an Armed Services Flag

Also the Military Mom's website has the instructions and a free pattern to make a Blue Star Banner Quilt.

It is important that you make these only for families of service men or women, as this symbol is a very special one reserved for this purpose. These flags or banners are only to be displayed during periods of war or hostilities.

Lest We Forget:
Of course we can all make other patriotic quilts to show we are thinking of those people who are serving our country in these difficult times.
Patriotic Heartstrings Quilting Project

The Blue Star Service Banner American Legion
To order a banner from the American Legion
Directions For Making a Blue or Gold Star Service Banner
Paper blue star banners for patterns or for personal use by military families with active members currently serving in the military ONLY to hang inside their home windows.
Download One-Star Blue Star Banner 8 1/2 x 11
Download One-Star Blue Star Banner 8 1/2 x 14
Download Two-StarS Blue Star Banner 8 1/2 x 11
Download Three-StarS Blue Star Banner 8 1/2 x 11
Download Four-StarS Blue Star Banner 8 1/2 x 11
Download Five-Star Blue StarS Banner 8 1/2 x 11

Please note:
Legally, only government licensed sources may officially manufacture true Blue Star banners in mass. But just like paper flags during 9/11, unofficial forms of flags and banners, used and hung with respect do not infringe on copyright laws of actual manufacturing rules.

Other links: Our Nation's Fallen Heroes
Free Patriotic Quilting Patterns

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:42 PM

    How do we get one of these?

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  2. That's a wonderful story. I'd like to see one of the banners.

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  3. I am in Iraq on my second tour and would love to get one for my home. The one my wife and I bought was unfortunately from China or Taiwan. How can I get a hold of this gentleman to purchase one of the American made banners?

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  4. Really inspiring story. Thanks, Michele!

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  5. Anonymous1:24 AM

    There are chapters of The Blue Star Mothers all over the country. Contact your local chapter and they'll gladly get you a banner. Or do what I did and bought one on EBay that was flown during WWII. It means so very much more to me than anything made in China ever could. I can only speak for The Blue Star Mothers here in S.E. Wisconsin, but their banners are all made in the USA.

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  6. Anonymous11:57 AM

    This story was so inspiring! How can we order from him?

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  7. Anonymous8:14 AM

    I was sent a gold star banner when my husband SFC Scott R Smith, US Army EOD was killed in action on July 17th, 2006. It made me smile to get this banner as I had wondered why I was able to buy a blue star flag in the PX but not a gold star. It was an honor to know that someone out there who I will more than likely never know thought enough of my husband's service and our sacrifice to send me something so simple as a banner. It makes me wonder now if this banner came from Rob Raubeson. I commend his efforts on bringing so many families a little piece of mind.....thank you from the wife of a hero...

    Gari-Lynn Smith
    Wife of a Hero
    SFC Scott R Smith
    KIA 07-17-2006
    What an amazing man
    I love you always

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  8. Does anyone know how to contact Mr. Raubeson to get a blue star banner. My son is an OIF vet and is active Army. I would love to have one of Mr. Raubeson banners.

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.