The stories started with the US Air Force woman who won a contest to get to meet Woody at a ceremony and how she was so impressed with his gift of gab. A gift spent not on the war, or what he did in it or why he was awarded the Medal Honor. But a message of hope for the nation and one that emphasized those left behind at the home front when a loved one has not come home from battle. .
Much was said about the Gold Star mothers, and later fathers, and still later the families, as it should be. But in my description of the gold star itself, the banner of the same name, the blue and silver stars and their banners, also called service flags, I have come to realize that I had missed something.
I never told you about the banner that started it all. And that story involves this man...
While with the 5th he obtained the rank of Captain. He and sons, Charles and Robert Jr, 1st Lt and 2 Lt respectively, are shown below while all served in the 5th.
Both sons would leave home to join the Great War not long after this photo was taken. While fighting in the front lines, their father decided to show the family pride in the boys by making a banner he hung in his window. It had two blue stars, one for each officer "Doing Their Bit" for home and country. The stars appeared on a white background with the edge of the banner or flag having a red border.
Neighbours would see this and so would the military families. Others soon made their own and community after community jumped on board so much so that the state on 24 September 1917 officially adopted the flag as a symbol for military families to display the pride they had in sons and daughters who had gone off to war for the country.
Captain Queisser not only designed and made the flag but he also sent off details to Washington with a sketch and indication that he wanted a patent on his creation. On 6 November 1917 two patents were granted to the Captain. Number D0051463 for a 2 stared flag and D0051464 for another with 4 flags on it.
By 1918 an Indiana group called the the American War Mothers had been wearing a black arm band with a gold star on it in honour of sons lost in battle. That year the Womens' Committee of National Defense lobbied President Wilson for the formal approval, of the black armband and gold star and in May got it. The gold then representing the cause of liberty and freedom and the costs and sacrifice in seeking this.
I am going to leave two important initiatives started by Woody Williams till Next Sunday in order to cover to other timely matters this week.
The first being the importance next Thursday of the day in our history. It is of course February 15th.
At precisely 12 noon of 15 February 1965 the old Red Ensign flag was lowered and Canada's new Maple Leaf flag was flown for the first time ever at the Peace Tower in Ottawa. The crowds sang Oh Canada, and God Save the Queen no doubt louder than many a heckler of the day, and gave great cheers. But this, only after months and months of debate, more than 300 speeches in the Houses of Parliament and after close examination of more than 5,900 designs, that a vote if parliament that carried 163 to 78, to adopt the new flag.
Canadians from Coast to Coast will be celebrating the very day, proclaimed by Parliament as National Flag of Canada Day on Thursday. No doubt it will add some excitement at the Winter Olympics as well as across the country.
And speaking of hard to read, I personally find it hard to accept that after all the coverage I have given to the story of the incredible heroism of Joseph Noil in this space, I have yet to see any news about him this February, It being Black History Month in Canada, and in fact the US as well.
I have taken great efforts to bring you his story of service in the US Navy, his being awarded the US Medal of Honor, his being buried under the wrong name for well over 100 years and his unveiled new marker with wonderful coverage a few years ago. But since then, little in the press last year or this re this man, born In Nova Scotia and the only man of colour from Canada to be so awarded a MOH, one would think someone in the Black communities across the country would take up the cause and keep his story alive.
But heck, Black History Month is only 1/3rd over. Maybe our communities will be shocked yet!
Back next week,