May 1st is Silver Star Service Banner Day; a time to recognize those who have been awarded The Silver Star Medal, and remember the sacrifices of our wounded and ill veterans. The Silver Star is described as the third-highest military decoration for valor in combat and is typically awarded for actions over a short-term and may be earned for specific acts in combat. Compare that to other types of medals for longer-term service-the Meritorious Service Medal, for example, which is awarded at the end of a military tour when conditions warrant.
Silver Star Service Banner Day will be on Friday, May 1, 2020.
Silver Star Service Banner Day is a time of recognition related to the Silver Star medal, but not exclusively dedicated to it. Silver Star Service Banner Day pays respect to those who have received the Silver Star but is more broadly associated with service members who have been affected by combat.
The Silver Star And Silver Star Service Day: Origins
The Silver Star award itself is quite old; according to Defense Department records, it is an award created as the successor of something known as the Citation Star, which was created in 1818. The first authorization for the official use of the Silver Star was in 1942.
The Silver Star medal is awarded for specific actions in combat. Silver Star Service Banner Day is a recognition of those who have been wounded, sickened, or killed in combat in general. The tradition of the Silver Star service banner is about as old as the Silver Star itself; according to several sources, the display of Blue, Gold, and Silver Star banners began in 1818.
Who Authorized The Silver Star Service Banner And Who Can Display It?
The Silver Star service banner is known more generically as a “Service Flag” (see below). It is specifically authorized by United States Code, Title 36, Section 901 Sec. 901 in the section titled “Service flag and service lapel button”.
This section specifically states:
A service flag approved by the Secretary of Defense may be displayed in a window of the place of residence of individuals who are members of the immediate family of an individual serving in the Armed Forces of the United States during any period of war or hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged.
For those interested in wearing the “service lapel button” with the Silver Star service banner, this is authorized for, “members of the immediate family of an individual serving in the Armed Forces of the United States during any period of war or hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged.
What Does The Silver Star Service Banner Mean?
Military families with loved ones serving in uniform and/or deployed in combat have displayed service banners and/or service flags as authorized by military regulations in gold, blue, and silver. Each color represents something different:
- Gold – sacrifice
- Blue – hope
- Silver – gallantry
Homes flying the Gold Star service banner have lost a loved one in combat. Those displaying a Blue Star service banner have loved ones who serve, and the Silver Star service banner honors those who have died, become sick, or who have been injured in combat.
Silver Star Service Banner Day
At one time, there was no Silver Star service banner-the military adopted the formal use of the Gold Star service banner and Blue Star service banner long before the same happened to the Silver Star service banner. In fact, formal recognition of what eventually became known as Gold Star Spouses’ Day in 1936; Silver Star Service Banner Day would not get its’ formal recognition until 2010.
The Beginnings Of Silver Star Service Banner Day
A Congressional resolution was passed in May of 2010, formalizing Silver Star Service Banner Day. It is listed as an “Official Day to honor wounded, ill, and injured veterans”. Private agencies and veterans service organization such as The Silver Star Families of America formed to recognize and help wounded and ill veterans and currently serving military members.
How Is Silver Star Service Banner Day Observed?
When Congress designated Silver Star Service Banner Day as May 1st, it called for Americans to observe the day “with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities”. Those activities are usually at the base/local level. This observation is not a federal holiday, banks and schools do not close, and many observances are on a more personal level.
Those who have loved ones who have been affected by combat may wear or display the Silver Star Service Banner, and many choose to observe 1 May in this way. But there may also be base level ceremonies, local military or military-themed events, and other activities designed to pay respect to those who have served in combat.
Local governments may make proclamations or hold gatherings to recognize the day, and some veterans service organizations plan ceremonies such as wreath-laying at military cemeteries, etc.
You may find activities and events being planned by local chapters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Reserve bases/installations, active duty bases/installations, public libraries, and military cemeteries.
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