Salut­ing our armed forces

Blue Star Me­mo­rial Mark­ers honor U.S. mil­i­tary

Yuma Sun - - DESERT LIFE - Desert Gar­dener Karen Bowen

On the 11th hour, the 11th day, the 11th month of 1918, World War I ended. In 1919, Pres­i­dent Woodrow Wil­son pro­claimed Nov. 11 as “Armistice Day” to com­mem­o­rate the end of World War I, also known as the “Great War.” In 1954, Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower changed the name from “Armistice Day” to “Vet­er­ans Day” to honor all vet­er­ans who fought to pre­serve Amer­ica’s free­doms. Dur­ing both wars, blue star ban­ners were hung in win­dows to an­nounce that a fam­ily mem­ber was serv­ing in the armed forces. The ban­ner had one blue star for each fam­ily mem­ber on ac­tive duty. If a fam­ily mem­ber died while serv­ing, the blue star was re­placed with a gold star. If the fam­ily mem­ber was in­jured, the blue star was re­placed with a sil­ver star. Th­ese his­toric ban­ners are still avail­able from the Amer­i­can Le­gion or­ga­ni­za­tion. (https://www.le­gion.org/troops/ blues­tar or 888-4534-4466)

In 1944, the New Jersey State Coun­cil of Gar­den Clubs voted to beau­tify a stretch of U.S. High­way 22 by plant­ing 8,000 dog­wood trees in mem­ory of Amer­i­can ser­vice­men and women who lost their lives dur­ing World War I and World War II. This sec­tion of high­way was named “Blue Star Drive” in honor of the blue star ban­ners.

In 1945, the Na­tional Coun­cil of State Gar­den Clubs adopted New Jersey’s “Blue Star Drive” idea. They changed the name to “Blue Star Me­mo­rial High­way Project” and be­gan plac­ing Blue Star Me­mo­rial High­way and By-Way Mark­ers along state high­ways, in parks, vet­er­ans fa­cil­i­ties, na­tional ceme­ter­ies, and gar­dens across the U.S. The area around each marker was land­scaped by the spon­sor­ing gar­den club.

This project is still ac­tively spon­sored by gar­den clubs through­out the U.S. The metal marker dis­plays a blue star and the words, “A trib­ute to the Armed Forces of Amer­ica.” The goal of this project is to grow a rib­bon of liv­ing me­mo­rial plant­ings across Amer­ica to honor our troops. Seven­tythree years af­ter the Blue Star Me­mo­rial High­way Project be­gan, it is still ac­tively spon­sored by Na­tional Gar­den Clubs and is one of their longestrun­ning projects.

Fed­er­ated Gar­den Coun­cil of Yuma, com­prised of all four lo­cal gar­den clubs, hon­ored our armed forces by plac­ing a Blue Star Me­mo­rial Marker at the Mo­hawk rest area on In­ter­state 8, 2.5 miles east of Mo­hawk. Yuma Gar­den Club placed a Blue Star Me­mo­rial By-Way Marker near the en­trance to Yuma Civic Cen­ter.

“Our ser­vice­men and women are held in ex­tremely high re­gard, es­pe­cially by me, since my son was in the Navy as an EOD tech­ni­cian for many years,” said Pe­can Grove Gar­den Club pres­i­dent Lois We­in­stein. “We all need to honor and re­spect our armed forces for their ser­vice to our coun­try,” she said.

“Th­ese won­der­ful blue star memo­ri­als are a vis­ual re­minder to all of us as we travel around the coun­try that we should stop and give thanks for what our vet­er­ans have done to pre­serve our free­dom and for what gar­den clubs have done in grate­ful ap­pre­ci­a­tion of our vet­er­ans’ sac­ri­fices,” said Betty McEn­tire of the Yuma Orchid and African Vi­o­let So­ci­ety.

The Fed­er­ated Gar­den Coun­cil of Yuma salutes our vet­er­ans and our ac­tive mil­i­tary. We ex­tend a spe­cial salute to our lo­cal mil­i­tary serv­ing at the U.S. Ma­rine Corps Air Sta­tion and the U.S. Army Prov­ing Ground. Our ser­vice­men and women are held in high es­teem, and their sac­ri­fices for Amer­ica are never for­got­ten.

Happy gar­den­ing.

PHO­TOS BY KAREN BOWEN

FED­ER­ATED GAR­DEN COUN­CIL OF YUMA do­nated funds to have a Blue Star Me­mo­rial Marker placed at the rest area on In­ter­state 8, 2.5 miles east of Mo­hawk. A Blue Star Me­mo­rial By-Way Marker (in photo at left) was un­veiled by Yuma Gar­den Club in 2012. It stands in front of the Yuma Civic Cen­ter.

THE BLUE STAR ME­MO­RIAL HIGH­WAY AND BY-WAY MARKER PROJECT HONORS our mil­i­tary and is a project spon­sored by Na­tional Gar­den Clubs. Mark­ers are placed through­out the U.S. in small gar­dens planted by lo­cal gar­den clubs with the goal of cre­at­ing a rib­bon of liv­ing me­mo­rial plant­ings across Amer­ica. This marker is in front of the Yuma Civic Cen­ter.

A U.S. MA­RINE COLOR GUARD PAR­TIC­I­PATED in the 2012 Blue Star Me­mo­rial By-Way Marker ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony held at the Yuma Civic Cen­ter.

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