Service Flag

The image above is of a service flag displayed by a family in the US during WWI. Each blue star symbolized a family member on active duty serving for the US military overseas. These flags have come to be known as a demonstration of patriotism and pride. For Wilhelm and Katherine Schmidt, a similar flag - hung prominently in a front window of their home in Winfield Kansas- was also a shield. The flag guarded against the aggression/violence against recent German immigrants that had intensified in their community around America’s involvement in WWI. Historical websites for Kansas and Missouri retrospectively tout the “industriousness” and “love for the soil” that made German’s migrating to the midwest in the late 1800’s “excellent citizens.” This sentiment, expressed by historians in communities now filled with descendants of these immigrants, was not shared unanimously or widely in the decades surrounding their migration. Wilhelm, leaving his birthplace of Alsace Lorraine to avoid military conflict and intense economic stress, arrived in Kansas as a young adult and struggled to learn English while setting up a farming operation on rented land. His two sons were born in Kansas and enrolled in the military {in order to play baseball actually}.Their mother Katherine often mentioned the thin veneer of safety she felt the service flag offered, symbolizing the added layer of “American” identity essential to providing her household with physical safety while her sons were away. 

Year: 1890

– Jordan Schmidt

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more