As the political season kicks into high gear, we at PinMart start getting news alerts about what the candidates and their entourages are wearing on their suit jackets. Usually it’s timeless American Flag lapel pins, but yesterday there was a barrage of news stories on a pin that Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine was wearing. Some years ago, Kaine had done humanitarian work in Honduras, so when he gave his DNC speech on Wednesday, his flag lapel pin, which was clearly not the American Flag, it was at first IDed the Honduran flag. This riled up critics who expressed anger that Kaine was not paying tribute to his own country. But upon closer scrutiny, and confirmed by Kaine, the flag he was wearing was discovered to be a blue Service Star flag pin. That is because two days ago his son Nat, a marine, deployed overseas.
This uproar made me realize that perhaps the American public isn’t as familiar with these flag pins as I thought they were. And that an informational blog was needed. So here you go!
The Service Star flag, or Blue Star Banner as it’s sometimes called, was designed by a WWI Army Captain. He had two sons in active duty and thought it would be a fitting tribute to their service. By WWII the practice became widespread to display a Service Star flag banner in the window of your home if you had children deployed, with one star for every child in harm’s way. It even led to an organization called Blue Star Mothers of America, who would create care packages to send to soldiers overseas. And in the intervening decades, the stars have come to represent more than just sons: the US government notes that they can recognize all members of an immediate family, from mothers and fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.
The proper way to hang this flag, when not in the form of a lapel pin, should be indoors, with the logo facing out the window. And if tragedy does strike, a gold star is added to the blue star, to indicate a fallen family member.
Symbols like this, whether in the form of lapel pins or the traditional flag, provide great comfort to those who have family members in the military, protecting American and its allies across the world. It serves as a way to recognize others also suffering the same worries, and provides a network of community support.
So I hope this was helpful. And I hope that next time you see Kaine, or anyone in your community wearing this lapel pin, that you’ll recognize it and its importance to the families of service that men and women fighting all over the world.