WAUSEON — Blue Star Service Banners will be presented to family members from across northwest Ohio during a program organized in conjunction with the Wauseon American Legion Auxiliary Post 265 and the Wauseon VFW Auxiliary Post 7424.
Area residents, including those from Fulton, Lucas, Defiance, and Henry counties, who are interested in displaying Blue Star Service Banners in the windows of their homes are asked to contact Sherryann Franks, who is coordinating the sixth-annual presentation. Today is the deadline to sign up to receive a service banner during the annual presentation set for 2 p.m. Sept. 22 in the VFW Hall on North Ottokee Street in Wauseon.
The annual program was inspired by Wayne Barrick of Toledo who asked Ms. Franks a few years ago if there were any programs to honor Gold Star parents. His grandson Shane Penley, 19, of Sauk Village, Ill., was killed in Iraq.
Mr. Barrick, who died this year, will be honored during the event as well as Staff Sgt. Wesley Williams, 25, of New Carlisle, Ohio, who was killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in December, 2012, and Chief Warrant Officer James Groves III of Kettering, Ohio, who was killed March 16 on his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan, Ms. Franks said.
During the event, portraits of the two fallen soldiers, painted by area artists, will be presented to their family members, said Ms. Franks, Americanism chairman for the auxiliaries of the local VFW and American Legion.
Since the program was launched more than 150 Blue Star Service Banners have been presented to area family members, and eight Gold Star Mothers have been honored.
Gold Star presentations are made to mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of our country, Ms. Franks said.
The Blue Star Service Banner is available to families who have sons, daughters, or spouses now serving in the U.S. armed forces, Ms. Franks said.
Families are asked to contact Ms. Franks today to give her time to place the order for the banners; she notes that because of privacy laws, she lacks access to lists of military personnel from the area. Contact Ms. Franks at 419-388-6010.
The presentation program is open to extended family members as well.
According to the American Legion’s Web site, the Blue Star Service Banner displayed in the front window of a home shows a family's pride in their loved one serving in the military and reminds others that preserving America’s freedom demands much.
The banner was designed and patented in 1917 by World War I Army Capt. Robert L. Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry, who had two sons serving on the front line.
The banner quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in the armed services.
Ms. Franks said the annual event helps to continue the tradition to show support for American troops.