September 24, 1917 marks the 100th anniversary of the Blue Star Service flag having been read into Congressional Record. We thought it would be fitting if the magazine would publish the following information regarding a recent event that took place on March 19, 2017 in Waterloo, NY, (the birthplace of Memorial Day) commemorating the Service Flag, Veterans past and present. Attached is a photo of their original service flag. The discovery of the original service flag and program are of great historical value to this community. We felt it was noteworthy to publish this article in the national legion magazine.
“During World War I, a Blue Star Service Flag hung on the Church Sanctuary platform of the Presbyterian Church in Waterloo, NY. The flag had 33 stars on it, representing 33 men from the church serving in the war. On March 28, 1920, a special service to commemorate the lowering of the flag was held at the end of WWI. It is believed that the flag was given to a church elder, but then over the years, there was no other information on the location of the flag.
The Terwilliger Hall Museum in Waterloo, NY has a volunteer working there named Bill Holmes. Bill enjoys looking through EBay in his spare time and searches for any information pertaining to Waterloo. In 2012, Bill found the original Service flag from the First Presbyterian Church of Waterloo on EBay. He knew it was the original flag because the sale also included the original program from 1920. Bill purchased the flag and the program.
During the summer of 2016, Judith Hollowell, Presbyterian Church historian was at the Terwilligar museum looking for old pictures of the church and the village court house. As she was visiting with Mr. Holmes he told her about the church’s service flag. Ms. Hollowell was astounded at this discovery. As the church was anticipating its 200th anniversary in 2017, and planning assorted events, a decision was made by the church history committee, to include a commemoration service for the Service Flag during March of 2017.
On March 19, 2017, a service was held at the Presbyterian Church, Waterloo, NY to Honor the lives of U.S. Veterans past and present. The afternoon program included presentation of colors by the American Legion Post 396 “Doughboy” color guard, recognition of Veterans by anthem, History of the Blue Star Flag, Recognition of Blue Star Mothers Chapter 1 from Canandaigua, NY and Chapter 8 from Rochester, NY, patriotic music by the Waterloo High School Varsity Ensemble and Brass Band, keynote speaker, State Senator Pamela Helming, and military speaker Colonel Dan Grillone, Retired, U.S. Air Force. Additional photos can be found on the First Presbyterian Church of Waterloo, NY facebook page.