Friday, March 28, 2008
Star and Gold Star Service Banners
Charlie Gibson of ABC News has named Rod Raubeson, former
Marine who taught himself to sew on a 70 year old Singer sewing
machine as the "Person of the Week."
Raubeson who served more than 40 years ago in the Marines,
tried to find a 'service banner'..something that was once
commonly used on those homes with a family member in the Armed
Disappointed by the fading of a once honored tradition, he
taught himself to sew and made his own. Today, you can find
him at his sewing machine, creating service star banners for
the families of those who currently serve in one of the Armed
As Raubeson says, "When I started the banner project,
I anticipated I would probably end up doing 200, 300 flags,
and the war would be over."
But so far he has made 3,000 banners: 1,500 blue and 1,500
gold. A blue star banner means a family has a loved one serving
in the military. A gold star signifies a loved one killed
Raubeson is only able to make a few banners a day and his
name never appears on any of them. He figures he's left his
"There are not too many of these banners that don't
have a prick of blood from a needle that carelessly stuck
in my thumb, and certainly many of them have tears in them.
But don't worry folks, they're washed before they're sent
Raubeson not only taught himself to sew, using a 70 year
old Singer sewing machine, but he also uses a rotary cutter
and mat. Each piece of fabric is cut by hand, and each panel
is exactly the same. Raubeson creates a perfectly crisp seam,
reminiscent of a soldier's dress uniform, then stitches the
12-by-17-inch banners up to the clickety-clack of his sewing
"When I am sewing, a lot of the time I flash back to
being a machine gunner," Raubeson said. "I can send
off a burst of six stitches, and I know it's six stitches!"
Service banners while common during World Wars I and II,
had pretty much disappeared by the Vietnam War...replaced
by the yellow ribbons and the wish for soldiers to be able
to return home, again.
But now, thanks to Rob, at least 3,000 of them are being
hung up in windows once more. And as he says, when you see
a Blue Star family, think of them with respect and regard.
But when you see a gold star, remember that they have given
up a priceless gift..they've lost a member of their own family.
Community service is a precious thing and I know that Rob
is making a difference in his community and communities everywhere.
But I can't help but think it might be time to hang out some
yellow ribbons, as well.
ABC news video: Vet's Mission to Honor Soldiers Mar. 28, 2008