Thursday, September 24, 2020

A Living Tribute to Our Veterans

The Blue Star Memorial Marker program is a tribute to the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Services.

Calusa Garden Club members Jackie Purvis (left) and Marsha Riss are marker volunteers. Photos by Maria Lamb

Calusa Garden Club members Jackie Purvis (left) and Marsha Riss are marker volunteers. Photos by Maria Lamb

The Blue Star Memorial Marker program is a tribute to the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Services. The markers are a unique way for local garden clubs to show their support for the service men and women who risk their lives every day to protect our freedom.

The Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island dedicated its own seven-foot, Blue Star Memorial Marker on November 11, 2013, located at Veterans Community Park.

Calusa Garden Club’s past president, Dale DeFeo, spearheaded the initiative to bring the Blue Star Memorial Marker to Marco Island. The Veterans Memorial Committee supplied the concrete foundation for the installation. Affordable Landscaping assisted with the cost and installation of the lovely plantings surrounding the marker’s base.

In 2016, the National Garden Club’s Blue Star Memorial Marker project marked its 70th anniversary. Back in 1945, patriotic members of the National Garden Club in New Jersey began a Blue Star Memorial Trial that evolved into a national highway beautification program. They believed that it was better to honor the men and women of all the services from all of the wars by beautifying the landscape, rather than by building monuments. They planted 8,000 flowering dogwood trees down a 5½-mile stretch of highway as a living memorial to all veterans.

The Blue Star in the marker was taken from the Blue Star in the service flag. It was chosen to symbolize the memorial because it

Marsha Riss unloads bags of mulch for the base of the marker. Recent flooding washed away most of the mulch.

Marsha Riss unloads bags of mulch for the base of the marker. Recent flooding washed away most of the mulch.

was used during World War II on flags in the homes of families that had a son or daughter away at war, in churches, and in businesses. The Blue Star Memorial

Marker was adopted by the National Council of State Garden Clubs as its symbol to honor our veterans.

There are three types of Blue Star Memorial Markers. They are: Blue Star Memorial Highway Markers placed along dedicated highways; the Blue Star Memorial Markers placed on national cemeteries and veterans centers; and the Blue Star Memorial Markers which are intended for garden settings, such as parks and civic historical grounds.

Maintenance of the marker is the responsibility of the Calusa Garden Club members. A rotating team of club members volunteer to maintain the marker year-round. For the month of June, Jackie Purvis and Marsha Riss braved the hordes of biting mosquitos and the heat to add new mulch and freshen the vegetation around the marker.

Calusa Garden Club is a non-profit organization. Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated to help maintain the Blue Star Memorial Marker. Tax-deductible donations may be sent to Calusa Garden Club, P.O. Box 1763, Marco Island, FL 34145.

Calusa Garden Club meets the second Monday of the month from October through April. Most meetings are held at the Fellowship Hall of Wesley United Methodist Church, 350 S. Barfield Drive.

For more information about the Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island, visit the website at www.calusa.org.

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