My son, Alec, asked me if he could write a post today in honor of Memorial Day. Thank you for listening to him, and for remembering those who gave their lives in service to our country.
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When I was in the first grade, my mother used to read to me for History class. We had a collection of books on American History. One of my favorite books was on World War II, and that's where I first learned of the Gold Star on service banners, those are the small flags you maybe have seen in people's windows. They are the official banners that members of a soldier's family can display in their windows.
I remember the first time I saw a service flag or service banner in someone's window in our small town. I recognized it from the book we had read, and was surprised to see it. I didn't think in our small town, that there'd be a gold blag banner. But even though we only have 10,000 people living here, there are two houses within a mile of us that have a Gold Star in their windows.
There are two types of service banners that people place in their windows, the one with the blue star means someone in the immediate family is currently serving in the military. A gold star means someone from the immediate household died while serving our country. When I see a flag in the window, it makes me wonder who the gold star banner is for.
Once I learned about the Gold Stars, I began to notice them in any city or town I was in. When we went to visit my aunt, I saw a Gold Star Banner two doors down from my aunt's house.
There is an online registry, the link is here. You can enter your hometown and search the registry for any Gold Star families in your area, you don't have to know a soldier's name. You can read their names and send a thank you to the family, or leave a tribute on the pages there. When my family drove through Portage on the way to Wisconsin Dells, we looked up any fallen heroes and I was surprised to see that a green beret had died, from Portage. He was a character portrayed in the movie Black Hawk Down, a Delta Force sniper.
I encourage you to look up your hometown for heroes. It can be something special you can do on Memorial Day. Find out the last name and leave them a tribute on the site. Don't think your town is too small because there are two families with Gold Stars in their windows near our house, and we are a small town.
The people who die fighting for our country are not just numbers, they are people with families who love them, and they live where you live.
Memorial Day is picnics and parades, but also a day to remember and say thank you. Thank the soldiers who fought for us by finding out their names and reading them out loud. They're not forgotten that way and they become real. The flags were started in 1917 by a father for his two sons because "The world should know of those who give so much for liberty."
Photo source: wikipedia