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The banner was designed in 1917 by United States Army Captain Robert L. Queissner of the Fifth Ohio Infantry, in honor of his two sons who were serving in World War I. It was quickly adopted by the public and by government officials. On 24 September 1917, an Ohio congressman read into the Congressional Record "The mayor of Cleveland, the Chamber of Commerce and the Governor of Ohio have adopted this service flag. The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother — their children."
These flags were first used in World War I, with subsequent standardization and codification by the end of World War II. They were not popular during the Vietnam Conflict but have come back into use. In modern usage, an organization may fly a service flag if one of its members is serving active duty.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)