|The practice of displaying a service banner became popular during WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-1918) and was continued or even increased during WWII (U.S. involvement 1941-45). Families would display them in their front windows to signify the numbers of sons or daughters they had serving in the military during the war. There was one star for each child. The flags were traditionally composed of a rectangular white field with a blue star or stars, framed by a rectangular red border. Typically, if a soldier or sailor was killed, a gold star was applied over the blue. If other circumstances occurred, such as the individual became a prisoner of war or missing in action, another color was used, such as purple or white. There was a whole list of colors to signify different statuses.
This particular example dates to WWII. The design is branch-specific, which makes it more unusual than the average pennant, and even more so because it represents service in the woman's arm of the United States Naval Reserves. Better known as the "WAVES" (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), the program was established by an act of Congress on July 21st, 1942, and signed into law by Franklin Roosevelt. The creation of the WAVES authorized the Navy to accept women as commissioned officers. This allowed male officers in the Reserve to be releases for sea duty, replacing them with women in shore establishments.
The first director of the WAVES was Mildred H. McAfee. As President of Wellesley College, McAfee was already a leader among academics nationwide, actually taking leave from her presidency to serve in her new capacity. It almost goes without saying that this would probably be unheard of today, but the 1940's was a different time; an era of significant patriotism and commitment to the nations, on a widespread level that is almost hard to conceive. Commissioned a lieutenant commander in August of 1942, McAfee was later promoted to commander and then to captain.
It is important to note that although some members did support the need for uniformed women during World War II, the notion of women serving in the Navy was not widely supported in Congress or by the Navy. The persistence of several women nonetheless laid the groundwork for the WAVES, due in large part to the efforts of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the Navy's Women's Advisory Council, and the first known American-born Chinese female physician, Margaret Chung.
Instead of a blue star, this banner's center medallion consists of a red ship's propeller, overlaid with a blue anchor. Blue and red lettering in the white field reads "Serving in the WAVES; U.S. Navy." An open sleeve was created at the top and bound by machine. Printed on Rayon, there is an applied fringe along the bottom edge.
A unique gift for a woman who isn't encumbered by societal conventions.
Mounting: The banner was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.
The outer molding has a rectangular profile, is very dark brown in color, almost black, with red highlights and undertones. To this a ripple profile molding, black with gold highlights, was added as a liner.
Condition: There is moderate oxidation and soiling, and modest losses in the red pigment at various fold lines.