A blue star banner, tucked away inside the closet of an East Tennessee church, became the focal point of a service dedicated to military veterans.
"I was 16 years old when they were doing this and I remember something about it but not a lot," said 87-year-old Herman Sims. The Army veteran's name appears on one of the ninety-one stars sewn on a banner dating back to the 1940s. It is made out of flag material and the blue stars on it symbolize a "son" who left home for war. The banner also holds two silver stars marking two men wounded in battle. In addition, there are two gold stars marking two church members killed in World War II.
"I got interested in it because my father's name is on it," said Jerry Clark who helped dust off the banner, get it framed, and organize the church service to pay tribute to the men on those stars.
"(It's) brought some people closer together in this church," said Mr. Clark.
The service took place in front of a church overflowing with visitors on the Sunday before Veterans Day. During the tribute, Pastor Rick Loy of New Hopewell Baptist Church invited a handful of World War II veterans to the stage including four featured on the blue star banner.
"It's kind of like a homecoming, reunion, Veterans Day all wrapped into one," said Pastor Loy.
The congregation offered those veterans a standing ovation and filled the sanctuary with patriotic songs.
"I thought it was something real extraordinary that they would do something like that," said Mr. Sims.