The Citation Star was established as a result of an Act of Congress on July 9, 1918 (65th Congress, Sess. II, Chapter 143, page 873) and was promulgated in War Department Bulletin No. 43 dated 1918. It was retroactive to include those cited for gallantry in action in previous campaigns back to the Spanish-American War. Per letter from General Jervey, Office of the Chief of Staff, dated February 26, 1926, is quoted in part:
The Secretary of War directs as follows - The following is the amended version of paragraph 187 of Army Regulation: "No more than one Medal of Honor or one Distinguished Service Cross or one Distinguished Service Medal shall be issued to any one person, but for each succeeding or act sufficient to justify the award of a Medal of Honor or Distinguished Service Cross or Distinguished Service Medal, respectively, a bronze oak leaf cluster, shall be issued in lieu thereof; and for each citation of an officer or enlisted man for gallantry in action, published in orders from headquarters of a force commanded by a general officer, not warranting the issue of a Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross or Distinguished Service Medal, he shall wear a silver star, 3/16 inch in diameter, as prescribed in Uniform Regulations."
Army Regulation 600-40, paragraph 48, September 27, 1921, specified that the Citation Star would be worn above the clasp, on the ribbon of the service medal for the campaign for service in which the citations were given.
On July 19, 1932, the Secretary of War approved the Silver Star medal to replace the Citation Star. This design placed the Citation Star on a bronze pendant suspended from the ribbon design. The star was no longer attached to a service or campaign ribbon.
Authorization for the Silver Star was placed into law by an Act of Congress for the US Navy on August 7, 1942 and an Act of Congress for the US Army on December 15, 1942. The primary reason for congressional authorization was the desire to award the medal to civilians as well as the Army. The current statutory authorization for the Silver Star Medal is Title 10, United States Code, Section 3746.
The Silver Star is a gold star, 1 ½ inches in circumscribing diameter with a laurel wreath encircling rays from the center and a 3/16 inch diameter silver star superimposed in the center. The pendant is suspended from a rectangular shaped metal loop with rounded corners. The reverse has the inscription "FOR GALLANTRY IN ACTION". The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 3/32 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118; 3/64 inch White 67101; 7/32 inch Ultramarine Blue; 7/32 inch White; 7/32 inch Old Glory Red 67156 (center stripe); 7/32 inch White; 7/32 inch Ultramarine Blue; 3/64 inch White; and 3/32 inch Ultramarine Blue.