Blue Star Mothers Club

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Blue Star flag in window, June 2012

During World War II, in March 1942, the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. organization was formed in the United States to provide support for mothers who had sons or daughters in active service in the war. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in a window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the military. Living servicemen were represented by a Blue Star and those who had lost their lives were represented by a Gold Star. Until 2011, membership in the Blue Star Mothers was open to any woman living in America who has a son or daughter in the US Armed Forces, or who has had a son or daughter in the US Armed Forces who has been honorably discharged. At the National Convention held August 2010 in Grand Junction, CO under the leadership of National President Wendy Hoffman, a resolution was passed that would forever change membership eligibility. The resolution was taken to congress in August of 2011 and was signed into law Dec 13, 2011. It expanded membership opportunities for more women who have supported service members in new conflicts and addressed the composition of today’s family.

The law updates the Blue Star Mothers Congressional Charter to: Include grandmothers, foster mothers, and female legal guardians; expand membership to mothers whose children have served more recently, by removing references to specific conflicts; and expand membership to eligible mothers living outside of the U.S.

The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.

Founding of the Blue Star Mothers[edit]

Army Capt. George Maines conceived the idea for the Blue Star Mothers. He ran a newspaper article in Flint, Michigan, in January 1942, requesting information about children serving in the armed forces. More than 1,000 mothers responded. By March 8, 1942, more than 600 mothers organized the Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc.

That same year, chapters quickly formed in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Oregon, Iowa, Washington, California, Pennsylvania and New York.

The blue star flag was designed and patented by World War I Army Capt. Robert Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry, who had two sons serving on the front line. This flag quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in service.

The Blue Star Mothers’ original goals were to bring their sons home, to ensure they received the benefits they deserved, help service members' families, help each other and to be there if something happened. Over the years, the goals have broadened to rehabilitation, hospital work, children’s welfare and civil defense.

The largest family of the Blue Star Mothers belonged to Nick and Anna Matthees of rural Goodhue, MN who sent 7 sons (3 Army, 2 Navy, and 2 Army Air Force) to serve during World War II. All 7 survived. [1]

Blue Star Mothers today[edit]

Prior to December 2011, membership in the Blue Star Mothers was open to any woman in America whose child is in the United States Armed Forces or who has served in the United States Armed Forces or had an honorable discharge. Stepmothers and adoptive mothers are eligible for membership under certain circumstances. Blue Star Dads and others who wish to serve through the BSMA may join as Associate Members. Associate members do not vote or pay dues.

At National Convention in 2010, under the leadership of National President Wendy Hoffman, a resolution was passed by the convention body changing eligibility for membership. The resolution was taken to Capitol Hill and in August of 2011 a bill was introduced to Congress, followed soon after by a matching bill in the senate. Both Bills passed and on December 13, 2012, President Obama signed the Act and the eligibility for membership was expanded to include Grandmothers, Foster Mothers, all Step Mothers and female legal guardians. Membership is also now open to American Citizens living in other countries.

Blue Star Mothers is made up of local chapters, which are organized into departments. Five members are required to start a local chapter. Just as when it was founded, the Blue Star Mothers continues to concentrate on providing emotional support to its members, doing volunteer work with veterans in general and veterans’ hospitals in particular, and generally fostering a sense of patriotism and respect for members of the Armed Forces. In addition, local chapters carry out individual projects of their own choosing.

Blue Star Mothers do much more than volunteer in VA hospitals and outreach centers. They work in physical and emotional rehabilitation, help with medical supplies, transportation, food, clothing and friendship, gratitude and love.

Blue Star Mothers have been active in civil defense since 1942, doing things like finding food and shelter for people devastated by hurricanes and floods.

Blue Star Mothers do not have a permanent headquarters, so the headquarters travels with the national president.

There were about 30,000 members during World War II and several thousand during the Korean War and Vietnam War. By July 2006, membership had grown to 164 chapters nationally. California has the most, but Minnesota, Ohio and Oklahoma follow close behind.

As of August 1, 2011, there are over 7,000 members and 225 chapters. The 69th Annual convention of Blue Star Mothers of America in August 2011 was held in Washington DC. The presiding Officer Wendy Hoffman, National President 2009-2011.

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