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Sons in Service flag

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Lately, my husband has been spending his free time trolling eBay for historic American flags. And when he lifts his head up from the netbook, he likes to tell me facts about our country’s history and tidbits he has learned about the past while searching for flags. I like to tease him that he’s getting quirky in his old age — but really, searching for American flags is a hobby that just might help preserve history.

Within the past week — just in time for Memorial Day — my husband won an eBay auction for what’s called a “sons in service” flag. I had never heard of this flag before, so he had to educate me. During the first and second world wars, families would hang these small flags in a window or other place where they could be seen from the street. Each blue star on the flag indicated how many sons in the family were in service. This flag my husband bought (with nine stars) was either from a large family or possibly used by a business to show how many employees were actively deployed, as some companies did. My husband is considering getting the flag framed, which we hope will help preserve it. You can see how the flag is tattered and has permanent creases from being stored folded.

When a soldier died in service, a gold star was sewn over the blue star. I’m glad this flag has only blue stars, because I like to think all of those sons, or employees, made it home to their families.

Memorial Day is about remembering those who were given gold stars on sons in service flags — an in life.

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