CAMDEN, Maine — Julie McGlothlin has three sons who will be deployed as soldiers to either Iraq or Afghanistan before the end of summer, and she worries about them daily.
But the Lincolnville mother is also proud of their devotion to their service and country.
She shares that devotion, and on Tuesday Camden American Legion Post 30 presented McGlothin with a Blue Star Service Flag to show that her three sons will soon be in harm’s way.
“I’m very honored and I’m very proud of them,” McGlothin said. “It wasn’t my choice. It was their choice, and I’m behind them 100 percent. I worry about them every day.”
Son Keith Thornton, 23, is an Army private already serving in Iraq.
Marc McGlothlin, 20, is a U.S. Marine lance corporal training in California who expects to be deployed in August.
John McGlothlin, 18, is an Army private undergoing basic training in Missouri who has been told he will be sent to the war zone in late August, she said.
Her oldest son Steven, 24, is having thoughts about joining the military, she added.
“It’s entirely up to them,” she said of her sons. “I told them no matter what they choose, I would support them.”
The Blue Star Service Flag, also known as the Mother’s Flag, is a banner that has a white field with a red border. Blue stars are placed in the field to represent family members serving in the armed forces during any period of war or hostilities the country may be engaged in for the duration of the conflict.
McGlothlin said she planned to hang the banner in a window facing the road going by her home in Lincolnville Center.
Post Commander Ron Rainfrette said he struck up a conversation with McGlothlin after noticing two bumper stickers on her car. One stated that she had a son in the Army, the other that she had a son in the Marines. When he learned she had three sons in the service and that all would be in either Iraq or Afghanistan later this year, he immediately proposed that the Legion present her with a Service Flag.
The flag was designed by a World War I Army captain who had two sons fighting on the front line. The flag quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in service. Displaying the flag became much more widespread during World War II, and in 1960 Congress chartered the Blue Star Mothers of America Inc. The Department of Defense revised the specifications of the design a few years later.
“It’s very unusual to have three family members serving in a war situation,” Rainfrette said.
In presenting the flag, Rainfrette told McGlothlin that “this great nation and this American Legion” owed her sons a debt of gratitude for “serving in harm’s way and showing just how much love and respect they have for their country.”