The idea of military service flags began during World War I, when the families of those fighting overseas displayed flags in the windows of their homes. These flags featured both blue and gold stars; the blue stars represented family members serving during war time, while the gold stars indicated family members who gave their lives in the war.
Although popularity of the flags fell off after World War II, they were rediscovered in 2005 when Mark and Kristine Hutson came across one inside a cabinet that was going up for auction.
After finding their first flag, Mark and his wife began actively searching for more service flags and building their collection to more than 100, according to the Northwest Herald. Mark knew these flags were displayed out of a sense of pride and patriotism to honor serving family members. While some people still display flags for service men and women, the sentiments are rarely the same as for those displayed in the wars of the past.
Mark and Kristine set out to find the families that belonged to each of the flags they’d acquired. They wanted to learn more about the history of the flags and the families that once displayed them. The flags the couple buy remain in their collection and aren’t sold for a profit. By 2015, the pair had found the families and history of all but four of their flags. Mark even plans to write a book about one particular family that lost four sons in World War II, the Borgstroms. (Read more about the heartbreaking story of the Borgstroms here)
The Hutsons take their collection of flags and other war trinkets to various venues to share the history of the items. As part of the presentation, they remind people to honor the veterans in their lives. They remind people that this can include asking about the veterans’ service and experience. America has a long history of honoring war veterans in differing ways.