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Blue Star Memorial Marker honors service men, women

New brick work and landscaping at the southern entrance to South Boston at this prominent location on Highway 501 now marks the site of the Blue Star Memorial By-Way Marker welcoming those coming into South Boston. 

The new memorial was made possible thanks to dedicated efforts of men and women committed to this worthy project including South Boston Garden Club members and Town of South Boston employees.

During a dedication ceremony held at Constitution Square Sunday afternoon, the public had an opportunity to join in this tribute to area service men and women at the location of the new memorial. 

Local garden club members and scouts hosted and assisted the guests in attendance.

South Boston Mayor and Major General (Ret.) Carroll Thackston noted the hard work by the South Boston Garden Club in making the Blue Star memorial marker a reality.

“It’s especially gratifying to me,” said Thackston, a 35-year veteran of military service.  “It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by veterans past and future who keep our country free.”

South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel, a U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonel (Ret.), accepted stewardship of the memorial on behalf of the town.

He asked the large crowd gathered for the dedication ceremony to always remember the history behind the placement of blue stars during times of war, and the mental and sometimes physical anguish of families who send fathers, mothers and children off to war.

“The dearest thing in the world for fathers and mothers is their children,” reflected Daniel, who asked the crowd to reflect not only on those left behind but for those who watch and wait, and, in particular those who replace blue stars with gold stars in memory of those servicemen and servicewomen who made the supreme sacrifice.

An honor guard presentation and reception followed in Constitution Square with free refreshments.

According to South Boston Garden Club member Jayne Pennington Elliott,  “The Garden Club and the town joined hands to honor those brave men and women, past, present and future soldiers, who fight for the rights and freedom. Together, they donated the acquisition, placement, landscaping and maintenance for the permanent Blue Star By-Way Marker and the park-like setting,” she added.  

 The Blue Star program was started by the New Jersey Council of Garden Clubs in 1944 with the planting of 8,000 dogwood trees to create a living memorial to the veterans of World War II. 

In 1945, the National Council of State Garden Clubs adopted the program and began a Blue Star Highway system, placing Blue Star markers along thousands of miles of roadways across the United States. 

The program expanded in 1951 to include not just veterans, but all men and women who had served, were serving or would serve in the armed services. 

There are more than 2,300 markers throughout the United States.

“The blue star icon became popular in World War II. It was used in print and on flags to honor sons and daughters at war. The Blue Star program is an ongoing tribute to those brave heroes who protect our freedom,” Elliott explained.