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During the war, the practice of displaying Service Flags in front of family homes was first introduced.

Families with a loved one in uniform hung these red-bordered flags in their front window or on the porch . The flags were decorated with one or more blue stars in their center — one for each family member serving in the military.

If a family member died in service, their blue star was covered with a gold one, indicating that they — and their family — had made the ultimate sacrifice.

By the end of the war, the term “Gold Star” had become synonymous with a family that had lost a loved one in the war, and was most frequently used to refer to mothers of deceased service members.

A Gold Star mother and a service flag, 1918 (Minnesota Historical Society)

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