Years ago a star in the window symbolized a silent reminder of a loved one actively serving the country. The Blue Star Banner program, started in World War 1, hung proudly in the windows of homes where a serviceman on active duty resided. This popular practice faded during the Vietnam War, but Sherryann Franks of Archbold is striving to bring awareness of our military personnel back to the community through both the Blue Star and the Gold Star banners.
Inspired seven years ago by a phone message from Wayne Berrick of Toledo asking what is done for a Gold Star grandparent, she felt moved to do something. The Gold Star Banner honors a loved one who was killed while serving. Wayne and his wife had lost their 19 year old grandson. Local artist Donna Barhite did a beautiful oil painting to commemorate his life and it was presented to the Berricks during a public presentation.
The emotional event has led Franks to reach out every year and seek a Gold Star mother to present a painted portrait of her fallen solider. Local artist Nora Sallows has created the portraits as well as Korean War veteran Jimmy White. The background of each portrait includes something that symbolizes the soldier’s life such as a beloved hobby or sports team.
In conjunction with the Gold Star presentation, Blue Star banners are also presented to families with loved ones presently serving on active duty. Franks says the blending of the two honors, both the Gold Star and the Blue Star, paints the picture of the reality of war. Although Franks is passionate about this endeavor, sealed military records makes it difficult to locate men and women currently serving in the military. She is reaching out to the community to actively find military families interested in the Blue Star Banner project.
This year’s Blue Star/Gold Star presentation will take place on Sunday, October 5th at the Wauseon VFW Hall. The Blue Star Banner has five stars to represent up to five family members actively serving. The day’s festivities include the American Legion Riders, special music to include bagpipe presentation by John Gailbrath, the Gold Star/Blue Star banner presentation, a gift of a prayer shawl crafted by Marty Ross, and a white dove release. The event is followed by a luncheon.
Franks has witnessed positive response to the event. “As emotional and raw as this is, I know I am doing the right thing. The healing starts.”
If you are interested in being a part of this year’s events, please contact Sherryann Franks by phone 419-388-6010 by September 5th to provide biographic information for the program. This is not just limited to Fulton County. Any family with an active serviceman or servicewoman is welcome to contact Franks who strongly believes, “People get busy in everyday life, but it’s important we remember our servicemen and women.” She is working towards this…one star at a time.
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