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.
"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

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