One Vet Takes Up Sewing to Remember the Fallen

Rod Raubeson is resuscitating an old tradition to remember those fallen in war.

ByABC News
March 28, 2008, 5:21 PM

Mar. 28, 2008— -- Before there were yellow ribbons during World War I, one small banner started popping up in the windows of homes around America. The stars represented a family member serving in the military. But by the time of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the banners had all but disappeared.

Now, in this current conflict, they have made a comeback, and one man is trying to make sure that every soldier's family has one.

Rod Raubeson is a former Marine who served more than 40 years ago. Today, you can find him at his sewing machine, creating service star banners for the families of those who currently serve.

"I wanted to honor the kids who had the moxie to stand up for their country and go and enlist," Raubeson said. "I was interested in procuring a blue star banner for a friend of mine who had enlisted. When I went to the store, all they had were banners produced in Taiwan. They weren't really something I would have given to a friend."

A blue star banner means a family has a loved one serving in the military; a gold star signifies a loved one killed in action.

So Raubseon taught himself to sew.

"When I started the banner project, I anticipated I would probably end up doing 200, 300 flags, and the war would be over," he said.

But so far he has made 3,000 banners: 1,500 blue and 1,500 gold. His name does not appear on any of them, but Raubeson has clearly left his mark.

"There are not too many of these banners that don't have a prick of blood from a needle that carelessly stuck in my thumb, and certainly many of them have tears in them. But don't worry folks, they're washed before they're sent out!" Raubeson reassured ABC News.

It's no assembly line and, on a good day, he turns out only a few banners. It's a meticulous process. Each piece of fabric is cut by hand, and each panel is exactly the same. Raubeson creates a perfectly crisp seam, reminiscent of a soldier's dress uniform, then stitches the 12-by-17-inch banners on a 70-year-old sewing machine.

"When I am sewing, a lot of the time I flash back to being a machine gunner," Raubeson said. "I can send off a burst of six stitches, and I know it's six stitches."