Tim Kaine’s lapel pin in the vice presidential debate honors his son and the military

Honoring the US military.
Honoring the US military.
Image: AP/Julio Cortez
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Vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence looked like a strange mirror image of one another during Tuesday night’s (Oct. 4) debate. Both wore navy jackets and white shirts, and bright-colored ties—red for Kaine, blue for Pence. And each wore a lapel pin.

But while Pence’s pin, an American flag, was easily recognizable, Kaine’s was less so, and it generated misplaced criticism, including from the North Carolina GOP’s account, which accused the vice presidential candidate of wearing an “Honduras flag pin” in a subsequently deleted tweet.

Others have speculated the pin may be the Virginia flag.

Tim Kaine’s lapel pin actually honors his eldest son, Nat, who is a deployed marine. What he is wearing is a blue star pin. It’s a symbol worn by military families—traditionally, mothers and wives of active military personnel—to celebrate their family members serving in the military during a period of war or hostilities.

The blue star flag was designed in 1917 by Robert L. Queisser, a World War I army captain whose two sons served on the frontline, and it became a symbol for parents with deployed children. The flag was officially adopted by the Department of Defense in 1947.