Local couple embraces a WW II tradition

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Greenville resident and military service veteran Elton Jones has long been a World War II buff.

Just a boy when the storms of war raged in the Pacific and Europe, Jones is fascinated with the war era and the contributions made by the men and women who proudly served their country in those years.

He and wife Nancy have even traveled overseas to tour the battlefields and the beaches where so many lives were given to preserve cherished freedoms. Nancy Jones recalls some of the moving experiences of that trip.

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&uot;We toured with some of the veterans who had actually fought in those places…you would pass an old house and someone would say, ‘Hey, I was in that very house—see that upstairs window, I fired my gun out of that very window.’

Sometimes they would simply be overcome with emotion and tears, you know, all those wartime memories flooding back to them.&uot;

One of the memories shared by many that lived through the war years was an unusual white flag bordered in red.

These little banners, each featuring one or more blue stars shining prominently in the center, could be found displayed in the front windows of local homes.

These banners were known by several names: the ‘Service Star’ flag, ‘Sons in Service’ flag, and the ‘Blue Star Banner’. The tradition, started during WW I, became especially popular during the WW II years.

Some of these flags were ‘store-bought’, but most were lovingly sewn by hand by the mothers, grandmothers and sisters of the soldiers, sailors and airmen serving overseas.

Each star emblazoned on the little flags represented a family member in the service.

Sadly, many of those blue stars would be exchanged for gold ones during the war, honoring those men and boys who didn’t make it back to tell their tales.

Recalling the extreme sacrifices made by certain families, Elton Jones says, &uot;You would see some families with two or three of those gold stars on their flags…can you imagine how hard it was for them?&uot;

&uot;There are probably still some folks around Greenville who have one of those original flags stuck away in a trunk or an attic,&uot; adds Nancy Jones.

Many World War II vets will also recall being greeted by ‘Blue Star Mothers’, volunteer moms who passed out coffee and doughnuts to weary servicemen.

These ladies welcomed the veterans home with hugs and kisses and mourned with the families of those who did not make it back alive.

Today the tradition of symbolically honoring family members on active duty—and remembering those making the ultimate sacrifice—is enjoying a resurgence of popularity in the US.

The Joneses are very proud of the blue star service flag now hanging in the front window of their New Searcy Road home.

Their son, Major David E. Jones, a Greenville High School graduate, is currently serving in the US Air Force.

He will soon be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

&uot;We are proud of David, naturally, but we know there are many other folks who are just as proud of their sons and daughters who are serving in the military,&uot; notes his mom, Nancy.

&uot;With the renewal of patriotism we are seeing across the US, we felt other families might want to join us and have these banners in their own home.

It would be a great way to help promote patriotism in our community,&uot; adds Mr. Jones.

While Major Jones purchased his parents’ flag at Andrews Air Force Base, anyone who is interested in obtaining one of these flags can call 1-800-552-6064 or e-mail www.servicepride.com. for more information.

Service Star flags, lapel pins, veterans flags and other military items are all available to order.