America Supports You: States Honor Wounded With Silver Star Banner
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2008 More than 60 years after the custom was last observed, five states have endorsed the Silver Star banner as their official symbol for honoring war-wounded veterans.
The practice began in 1918, and the Silver Star banner was granted semi-official status by the Army adjutant general, said Steve Newton, founder of Silver Star Families of America. Sometime between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II, he said, the practice was lost.
Silver Star Families of America has been working to get the banner granted official status since 2005, Newton said. “When Congress approved the Blue Star and the Gold Star (as official service banners), it did not designate a Silver Star banner,” Newton said.
Blue Star banners designate families with a member serving in the military, while a Gold Star banner honors a family member who was killed in action.
The efforts of Newton’s group to work with Congress to get the Silver Star banner designated nationally as an official service banner led to some stalling points, however. Congress wanted the Silver Star Families of America to narrow its definition of wounded, Newton said.
“We decided to … go state by state, because we didn’t want to leave out post-traumatic stress (disorder) or Agent Orange or Gulf War Syndrome or accidents that occur in the war zone that will affect somebody for the rest of their lives,” Newton said. “We thought that they needed to be honored also.”
In 2007, the group presented each state with a proclamation to endorse the Silver Star banner as its official service banner to honor war wounded. To date, five states -- Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana and Missouri -- have done so.
“To me it’s a sign of honor,” Newton said. “When a state takes an action like this, it means that they want to remember the sacrifices of the wounded.”
Janie Orman, the group’s president, said that while the five states agreed quickly and others are on the brink of declaring the Silver Star banner their official service banner for the wounded, some declined.
“A couple of them said, ‘No, thank you,’” she said. “A couple of them felt like they had their own programs, I believe.”
In 2007, 44 states honored their war wounded by proclaiming May 1 as “Silver Star Day for the Wounded,” with at least two of those states working to make the proclamation permanent, Orman said. Silver Star Families of America hopes at least that many states will endorse the Silver Star banner, she added.
The Missouri-based group is a supporter of America Support You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.