Pam Classen with the Federated Garden Club gives the history behind the Blue Star Marker during the dedication on Saturday, Sept. 28. (Photos by Kim Brooks)
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
On Saturday, Sept. 28, a ceremony was held to officially dedicate Monticello’s Blue Star By-Way Marker, located at Fountain Park.
About 30 people showed up for the event, including local veterans, of which whom the memorial is dedicated in their honor and service to this country.
This was a project headed by Monticello’s Federated Garden Club. National garden clubs, like our own here in Monticello, are the parent organizations for Blue Star Memorials. According to the NROTC, “Blue Star Memorials are a tribute to the armed forces that have defended the United States of America.”
The history of the Blue Star Memorial dates back to 1944, almost 70 years ago, when the New Jersey State Council of Garden Clubs wanted to beautify 5.5 miles of U.S. Highway 22. They planted 8,000 dogwood trees, as a living memorial to the men and women in the Armed Forces from New Jersey.
The blue star, the prominent symbol on the Blue Star Memorial, was chosen because of its significance during WWII. Many families who had sons and daughters in the service placed flags in their windows and doors during the war. These service flags contained a blue star.
On Jan. 22, 1945, the New Jersey legislature designated U.S. Highway 22 as “Blue Star Drive.”
As garden clubs all over the U.S. take pride in beautifying their towns and cities, it was agreed that they would head the Blue Star campaigns.
A uniform Blue Star Marker was adopted for use all over the nation. Markers have been placed on highways from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii and Alaska. Many of the original markers were dedicated over 60 years ago.
In 1951, the mission of the Blue Star Marker was expanded to include all men and women who served or would serve in the Armed Forces of the U.S. It was originally designed to honor those who served during WWII.
There are three forms of Blue Star Markers. The Memorial Highway Marker is seen alongside roadways and rest stops. The Blue Star Memorial Marker is found at veterans’ hospitals and national cemeteries. The Blue Star By-Way Marker, which is located at Fountain Park here in Monticello, is placed in appropriate garden settings.
At the unveiling and dedicated of Monticello’s Blue Star Marker, Bobbie Meyer, Federated Garden Club president, said, “We are proud of our men and women in our community who served.”
Clyde Meyer, a veteran himself, thanked all local veterans for their service, including Don Gilmore, a WWII veteran, who was at the ceremony.
“At the end of WWII, we had 12.5 million veterans. Today, there are less than 2 million,” Clyde said of losing so many WWII veterans.
He said Monticello has a tradition of patriotism. “We serve our nation and community.”
Monticello is the first, and so far, only city in Jones County to have a Blue Star Marker.
“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished,” expressed Clyde. “Monticello is a pace-setter in getting things done.”
Mayor Dena Himes thanked the Federated Garden Club for their efforts and expenses in making the memorial possible. “What a beautiful privilege to accept this memorial for the people of Monticello.”